July 26: Speak Out For the World....and Against Ugly America No. 1 Chauvinism
Don't get me wrong, I love most sports. But I'm going to have my TV remote (with mute!) at the ready for the upcoming summer Olympics. You know the drill--soaring, beautiful feats of heart, talent and skill by athletes from around the world will be twisted into training people in flag-waving "USA, USA, USA" jingoism and rooting for "our" country--with the occasional "human interest" bit on non-U.S. athletes thrown in to help the chauvinist poison go down. No matter where the U.S. ends up in the ever-present medal count, all this will prove--once again--that this imperialist system works to turn everything it touches--no matter its human potential--into something oppressive and ugly.
Of course, Olympics chauvinism is hardly the worst of it: America and Americans No. 1 are the ideological underpinning and justification for countless crimes, from extraordinary violence to everyday exploitation committed by this empire against millions upon millions across the planet--not once every four years, but each and every day.
So I was thrilled when I heard of the July push to spread two quotes from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian--"American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People' s Lives" and "Internationalism--The Whole World Comes First"--far and wide (with an exclamation point on the 26th--more on that later). Organizers say this is part of the BAsics Bus Tour, now rolling through the streets of New York and nearby areas, with volunteers who have come from across the country going out to the neighborhoods to connect Bob Avakian's leadership, vision, and works with the people.
And on further reflection, I realized just how unique and unprecedented the spreading these two quotes from BAsics is, and why it's an effort anyone who cares about the planet should join or support.
I've covered and opposed U.S. wars and imperialism for years--from Vietnam "back in the day" to reporting on Iran' s 1979 revolution against the U.S.-backed tyrant and torturer, the Shah; investigating the poison cloud that spewed from a Union Carbide plant massacring 10,000 to 15,000 people in Bhopal India; seeing the made-in-USA tear gas and rubber bullets used by Israel to injure and kill Palestinians in Gaza in the 1988-89 Intifada; helping document the murderous impact of U.S. sanctions on Iraq, which killed over 500,000 Iraqi children in the 1990s; and writing about the imperialist agenda behind the U.S. "war on terror," the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the current threats against Iran.
Over these years, many have protested and spoken out against U.S. wars and interventions, and there have been some bold stands against U.S. chauvinism, including raising the Vietnamese National Liberation Front flag during Vietnam War protests, and standing with the Iranian people and declaring "It's not our Embassy!" during the 1979-1981 "hostage crisis." And the sentiment that it's wrong to value American lives over the lives of others has spread (although it must be said that far too often opposition to U.S. crimes is framed in terms of the cost to America and Americans, thus reinforcing the very ideology used to justify these crimes).
But because the capitalist-imperialist system has remained in place, the U.S. continues to rain death and destruction across the planet--via ecological damage and climate change, wars, and imperialist-driven impoverishment and dislocation. And with their system facing new challenges and stresses, the U.S. rulers--whether Democrats or Republicans--are even more stridently promoting America No. 1 exceptionalism and the baseless notion that American lives are worth more than others. Let's be clear--this poisonous idea is one reason there is way, way too much silence when Obama illegally assassinates people in Yemen, Pakistan, or Somalia. Or when Afghans are massacred, tortured, or brutalized by U.S. troops. Why does Mr. Barack "change-you-can-believe in" Obama end every major speech with "May God bless America"? Every issue--from jobs to manufacturing to the environment--gets filtered through "what's good for America," and how "we" can keep America No. 1. All this is sickening and immoral.