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Are We Proud To Be Americans (Slaughterhouse Blues)?

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Message Franklin L. Johnson
The rabid right-wing media lambasted Michelle Obama for saying these words at a rally for her husband: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." Despite all the political hysterics about her alleged treasonous comment, Mrs. Obama's statement raises an important question: Do Americans have reason to be proud of our country? Actually, our historic record over the last 30 years paints a very sad portrait.

As the sportscaster, Chris Berman, would say: "Let's go to the videotape."

Ronald Reagan ordered PATCO air traffic controllers back to work, invoking the Taft-Hartley Act, which banned unfair labor practices. They were striking for better working conditions, newer equipment and a shorter work week. In spite of these reasonable demands, Reagan fired the workers on August 5, 1981. He quietly conspired with his Transportation secretary, Drew Lewis, to train replacement workers in order to crush the PATCO labor union. This was a classic case of bargaining in bad faith.

On October 23, 1983, a truck bomb blew up the Marine barracks of our Beirut peace keeping force, killing 241 soldiers. Reagan promptly withdrew the remaining forces. Two days later, in order to avoid being labeled a cut-and-runner, he invaded Grenada, the smallest nation in the Americas, on trumped up charges. In fact, the island was going through significant political instability at the time. The US cited the building of a long airstrip and the alleged danger to the lives of about a thousand American medical students as reasons to invade. Subsequently, Reagan got his war win, while fomenting the righteous indignation of the entire global community. During the 1980s, Reagan armed and funded rebel groups in several Central American nations. This was a morbid attempt to rid the area of communist governments and their socialist sympathizers. Massive numbers of innocent and unarmed civilians were murdered for little practical political advantage.

George "Poppy" Bush launched his "Operation Just Cause" invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989. Bush took a hard line against Manual Noriega after the media labeled him a "wimp" in foreign policy matters. Using allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering, Bush sought to bolster his presidential bona fides by waging war against Panama. More than 3,000 innocent Panamanians were killed during the bombing. You could say he invaded Panama "Just Cause" he could get away with it.

After the cold war ended, the defense budget was facing a deep cut in funding. Bush fought hard to pre-empt the proposed peace dividend by prodding Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait. When the Iran-Iraq conflict ceased, Hussein was left with a million-man army, no jobs and a $75 billion external debt to Kuwait. Saddam discovered Kuwait was using slant drilling to steal oil from Iraq's Rumaila oilfield. So, Hussein decided to kill two birds with one stone by invading Kuwait under the ruse of restoring Iraq's sovereign historic right to the emirate's land. But, he needed US consent before he did so. Bush supplied that approval through US Envoy April Glaspie at a meeting with Hussein on July 25, 1991. She assured him we wouldn't interfere. He took the bait, giving Poppy Bush his reason to invade the Middle East. The rest, they say, is history.

Thousands of innocent Iraqis were senselessly killed during the assault. Over a million more died from the lack of food, medicine and clean water due to the ensuing savage embargo. Needless to say, "defense" appropriations continued to skyrocket.

Bill Clinton was a reluctant warrior. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, he focused his attention on reviving the US economy. Yugoslavia was an ailing nation following the death of Marshal Tito, who used an iron fist to keep the varied tribal peoples in line. The US, the EC and NATO had the opportunity to thwart a precipitous disintegration of Yugoslavia, but they waited until the factional fighting began. Where an ounce of prevention could've been used in the form of economic assistance, a pound of cure was needed. In the name of stopping human rights abuses, Clinton provoked NATO to create a few atrocities of its own by carpet-bombing Kosovo. This was simply a matter of justifying the continued existence of NATO, a cold war relic. Over 3,000 civilians were killed during this unnecessary war.

George W. Bush will go down as the most hated man in history (there were fewer humans on Earth during Hitler's time). He started two illegal and immoral wars which he refuses to end. He used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, although both nations had nothing to do with 9/11. Millions of Muslims have been murdered and driven from their homes as a result of these senseless wars of aggression and crimes against humanity. When you combine these heinous acts with Abu Ghraib, torture and kangaroo courts, we must ask: Why are these evil deeds being done in our name? A growing ocean of blood is on our hands.

Michelle Obama was viciously ridiculed for her remarks at a political rally. Later, it was discovered the videotape of the event, used by right-wing media, was doctored. The word, "really," was edited out of the audio feed. Since it was poorly altered, this ugly dirty trick was soon exposed. An unedited version revealed she said: "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country." Her intent was never to slander America in any way. But, when you review our woeful war and human rights records over the last 30 years, our nation leaves a lot to be desired. As we traverse this election season, are there genuine reasons for us to be proud of our country? Come November, we will soon be able to decide.

Franklin L. Johnson
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