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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/16/08

The Myth of American Moral Authority

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Pulitzer Prize winner, Ron Suskind, has come out with a book entitled ‘The Way of the World’ that asserts convincingly that the Bush administration ordered the CIA to forge a letter covering their collective derriere about WMDs in Iraq and Saddam’s taking delivery of yellow cake uranium from Niger.

As despicable as this recounted action is (one of so many the Bushites have perpetrated that a whole new lexicon is presently being developed by the Oxford Dictionary) and as dismally unsurprising as this latest criminal subterfuge is (the Bushies, after all, have been preparing for the ‘End Time’; with ‘Owl-mighty Gawwd’ on your side, you can do whatever the Hell you want, apparently) there is, regrettably, one ‘Revelation’ that Mr Suskind has not experienced; that regarding the prevailing myth of American moral authority. At least, not as evidenced by his interviews on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! there isn’t.

Mr Suskind ended his pitch on the Daily Show by reiterating his ‘book-tour blurb’, which Stewart had stifled half-way through the interview with a jibe about how crassly Suskind was touting his book. Suskind, in summation, stated melodramatically that “The book’s all about how America’s moral authority has bled away and we need to restore it to fight the battles that we need to fight and, y’know, the way to do it’s with truth!”

Can I get an ‘Ay-man’ for the rapturous delusion of American moral authority?

The vain, prideful fantasy that America possesses intrinsic moral authority is both a ludicrous and harmful one. It has been used to white-wash the ruinous, foul effects of American foreign and domestic policy for centuries. The American people, from the cradle to the grave, are inculcated with the precept that America can do no moral wrong; that America has a ‘lock’ on righteousness and so, ipso facto, any apparent wrong-doing is done by ‘loose cannons’ and renegades. The promulgation of this appealing, though unsubstantiated testament has resulted in its being piously accepted as a basic tenet of the secular pseudo-religion of ‘Americanism’.

Supporting examples which demonstrate this claim of moral authority are rarely if ever offered. Why should they be? Like any belief system, ‘Americanism’ requires no proof. Notwithstanding ‘faith’ in Americanism, the maxim has little relationship to fact and so creates a cognitive dissonance amongst the citizens of the United States. The specious myth of American moral authority is worn by American leaders (and the American people) as a precious, reverential vestment to cover up the numerous, depraved, heinous acts of murderous violence and dehumanizing social injustice that comprise the history of the American Republic. Given America’s contemptible history, Americans cannot rightly lay claim to moral authority or the moral high ground yet, they do. For to reject the tenet of American moral authority is to renounce one’s faith in Americanism, declare oneself ‘unpatriotic’ and so suffer derision and ostracism from the body politic.

Although doctrines of faith, by definition, are held to be unassailable by logic, even so, examples of America’s moral failures might serve to contravene the indiscriminant, unthinking acceptance of the sacrosanct belief in America’s inherent moral ascendency.

Let’s start with the unconscionable exclusion of indigenous Americans, African-Americans and women of all races from those who were granted ‘Liberty’ at the signing of America’s most hallowed documents and the effective denial of the rights of full citizenship to those citizens for the greater part of the life of the Republic. Not exactly brimming with righteousness and moral rectitude, one might say. Then again, such injustice was part and parcel of early, less civilized times and one might facilely shoo away guilt over these shameful inequities, if one were a true believer in the dogma of Americanism.

Moving on from social injustice to the atrocities of war, perhaps the ‘True Believe’ will consider the slaughter and subjugation of (fill-in-the-blank) by America the righteous as permissible evidence of moral turpitude.

  1. The indigenous people of the American continent, the Native Americans
  2. The indigenous people and citizens of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War
  3. The indigenous people of the Hawaiian archipelago  
  4. The civilian population of Viet Nam
  5. The people of Haiti
  6. The people of Guatemala
  7. The people of El Salvador
  8. The people of Nicaragua
  9. The people of Panama
  10. The people of Iraq
  11. All of the above and more

If could be argued that war is a monstrous aberration in which atrocities are an unfortunate, yet integral part. (Collateral damage is the modern, accepted terminology for the slaughter of civilians and while euphemisms such as this and ‘non-combatant’ are wide spread, they do not negate or excuse criminal, immoral acts.) Notwithstanding the parenthetical proviso, as General William Tecumseh Sherman correctly observed, “War is Hell!”. Thus one might be disposed to dismiss the aberrant behavior of men on the field of battle fighting for their lives as admissible to this argument.

The heat of battle, however, would not mitigate the murderous result of aerial bombardment, as the orders and the executions for such ruthless assaults are done at a cool, calculated distance. Since the Second World War, the people of China, Korea, Indonesia, Cuba, Peru, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, Iran, Kuwait, Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia, and Yugoslavia have all suffered ‘death from above’ delivered by the United States  in undeclared wars. These horrific, cold-blooded incidences of mayhem might register as contravening evidence with those whose faith in American’s moral strength is less certain.

Furthermore, if the many adherents of Americanism would stop even for a moment to meditate on the documented assassinations committed by CIA operatives as part of numerous coup d’états  when the brutal and corrupt dictatorships of Mobuto, Trujillo, Somoza, Marcos, the Duvaliers (pere et fil), Suharto, Noriega and Saddam Hussein were installed and maintained to suit American interests, they would start to sense that not even the US State Department could be so naïvely bumbling in the matters of statecraft as to fail to recognize the glaring lack of moral fiber displayed, not only by these despots - certainly not by the murderers in the service to these men - but also by the US administration officials who befriended them and ordered and carried out extra-legal executions.

(Visit the site of ‘Friendly Dictator Trading Cards’ for more fun facts about America’s propensity to support fascist autocrats when the money is right.)

Possibly, borderline apostates should more closely examine and consider the presidentially ordered, CIA directed and financed coups in Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran, etc. that violently and bloodily over-threw the democratically elected governments of those nations because their policies, which strove to place the needs of their own people above the greed of US-based multi-nationals in defiance of the long-standing dictum for subservience to American interests, were perceived and propagandized as committing the odious ‘crime’ of promoting ‘leftist/Marxist’ policies.

Conceivably, the Faithful might note America’s determined, decades-long obstruction by veto of repeated UN resolutions calling for a Palestinian State and fair and equitable distribution of vital resources – resolutions supported by near world-wide unanimity which in all likelihood would end most of the animus and violence in the region - while at the same time successive American administrations have been politically, materially and financially supporting the continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people in gruesome, slow-motion genocide by the State of Israel. How might 30 years of America stone-walling the basic human rights of the people of Palestine be viewed as just and righteous?

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After years of professional starvation as a 'working musician', DC found his way to Taiwan where he has lived and taught English as a foreign language for 18 years - fourteen of them married blissfully to Yashan 'Linda' Huang. "Having lived (more...)
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