A Nation of Stupid Children, Who Refuse to Give Up the Lies
by Arthur Silber
By the age
of eight or nine, most children realize that Santa Claus isn't a
real person, just as they know the Easter Bunny and similar pleasantries
are only make-believe, tales of imagination offered to add a bit
of fun to the holidays. The great majority of children give up these
fantasies without experiencing emotional upheaval that remotely
approaches serious trauma. Those very rare children fortunate enough
to be raised by adults who accord them the seriousness and respect
they deserve know such stories to be ones of invention from the
the great majority of Americans led by a relentlessly trivial
and mendacious political class and a comparably anti-intellectual
media never approach again the psychological achievement
of children who undergo this transition. Still more unfortunately,
most of these same children, while able to recognize fabrications
of the Santa Claus variety, become prisoners of the American
mythology that I recently discussed. Their pathetic plight is
understandable in one sense, since almost no one will disabuse them
of the lies with which they comfort themselves. Nonetheless, one
can legitimately hope and expect that upon attaining adulthood,
more individuals would be prepared to exercise even limited independent
powers of assessment. But if you have such expectations, you will
almost always be disappointed.
Thus it is
that we have repellently idiotic
episodes of the following kind:
patriotism" of those "who have died to protect our interests in Iraq..."
has been brewing today over something Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
said while on CBS-TV's Late Show With David Letterman.
are very frustrated, and they have every right to be," about the
situation in Iraq, McCain said. "We've wasted a lot of our most
precious treasure, which is American lives."
"wasted" drew a sharp rebuke from the Democratic National Committee:
McCain should apologize immediately for his comments," Democratic
National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney said in
an e-mail to reporters. "McCain should also explain this poll-driven
change in his tune. How is it that John McCain now believes American
lives are being 'wasted,' yet he so stubbornly supports the President's
plan to escalate the war in Iraq and put more American lives in
harm's way? Clearly in looking at his sinking poll numbers, he
really will do or say just about anything to win."
wording was similar to that of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., another
presidential contender who got criticized for saying last month
that "we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000
lives of the bravest young Americans wasted." He quickly apologized,
saying that "even as I said it, I realized I had misspoken."
moved to calm the waters. His staff just e-mailed a statement
from the Republican senator, acknowledging that he too agrees
he shouldn't have used the word "wasted":
I referred to American casualties in Iraq as wasted," McCain says.
"I should have used the word, sacrificed, as I have in the past.
No one appreciates and honors more than I do the selfless patriotism
of American servicemen and women in the Iraq War. We owe them
a debt we can never fully repay. And America’s leaders owe them,
as well as the American people, our best judgment and honest appraisal
of the progress of the war, in which they continue to sacrifice.
not change the fact, however, that we have made many mistakes
in the past, and we have paid a grievous price for those mistakes
in the lives of the men and women who have died to protect our
interests in Iraq and defend the rest of us from the even greater
threat we would face if we are defeated there."
are those precisely, Senator? Iraq had not attacked us and did not
seriously threaten us. Both facts were known to our leaders before
the invasion of Iraq began, just as they were known by many "ordinary"
citizens, both here and abroad. This was a naked, criminal war of
aggression, now continued by means of an equally criminal occupation,
against a third-rate country that was virtually defenseless before
our onslaught. We have murdered more
than half a million innocent Iraqis, and destroyed an entire
nation. If by "interests," McCain and the rest of our ruling class
mean the "right" of the United
States to uncontested world hegemony, then let them say so and
be damned. No other "right" or "interest" explains or "justifies"
our monstrous acts but that one most certainly does.
our ongoing occupation of Iraq, which no one is prepared
to even try to end, has resulted in the fragmentation and significantly
increasing strength of a
global jihadist movement which many experts (and non-experts)
predicted before this catastrophe began. We have created far more
enemies than we had before, and we therefore face greater dangers
now than we did four years ago. Those dangers continue to increase
every day that we remain.
the costs of this sickening war and occupation have burdened the
United States with a huge and growing debt to be paid off by our
children, by their children, and by their children unto infinity,
depending upon how much longer this continues. Our economy was already
grossly distorted by the ravages of the military-industrial, corporate
statist complex and now the damages have cracked the foundation
this catastrophe without end has severely damaged our nation's military,
making us more vulnerable to actual threats we might face in the
future. And no, Mr. Bush, Senator Reid, and assorted "major
liberal bloggers," the answer is not to enthusiastically
and very expensively create
a still "bigger military." We already spend more on defense
than most of the rest of the world combined. Why in God's
name should our military, in the words
of Chalmers Johnson, regularly "deploy well over half a million
soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian
contractors in other nations" and why should we have over
700 bases in 130 countries around the globe? There is only one reason
for insanity of this kind: we are absolutely convinced we are "entitled"
to rule the world, by military force on a scale never before seen
in all of world history. If that is what you believe, then say so
and be damned.
is infinitely worse than that these lives have been "wasted": these
deaths have served to strengthen our enemies and weaken our own
country in countless ways that our actual enemies could never have
achieved on their own. That these lives have been "wasted" is
the best one can say, not the worst. They are the greatest
boon our enemies could dream of. These lives have not been "wasted":
they are the precious tribute laid at the feet of our enemies, by
our own leaders in the pursuit of indefensible and criminal
the recognition of this truth requires that we act like adults,
and that we are capable of coherent thought, shorn of lies. We must
be willing to give up the myth of the "noble soldier" who "selflessly
sacrifices" his life for the glory of the Perfect and Good United
States and see that these individuals died in a criminal
war of aggression launched to consolidate and expand America's hegemonic
role, a goal embraced by almost every leading politician, Republican
and Democratic, over many decades of entirely avoidable conflict,
chaos and death.
I find it
easier to deal with the widespread ignorance that afflicts so many
Americans for example, the almost total lack of knowledge
concerning the U.S. occupation of the Philippines
that I detailed last week. Since they are rarely provided with
this information, it is possible that at least some Americans might
prove capable of absorbing it, and begin to question the myths that
sustain their identities as "Americans."
But it is
almost impossible to deal with the fact that so many Americans,
almost all our political leaders, and our media virtually without
exception are so relentlessly stupid, and so resolutely determined
to remain so. As this latest episode in national idiocy proves yet
again, and for the millionth time, this laughably pathetic state
of affairs certainly would appear to be the unalterable truth of
where we are.
And so we
debate whether these lives were "wasted." With the blind ferocity
of religious maniacs, we enforce our new Puritan code, which demands
that certain prohibited thoughts may never be uttered. Violation
of this code means banishment from public life and from further
"serious" consideration. Every matter of importance is reduced to
the intellectual level of a remarkably backward house pet.
no one will stop this criminal war and occupation. And no
one will do a goddamned thing to
stop the next war, which could alter all our lives
How in the
world do most Americans face themselves each morning? Someone needs
to explain that to me. I truly would like to know.
Silber's [send him mail]
blog is Once Upon
a Time, where he writes about political and cultural issues.
He has also written a number of essays based on the work of psychologist
and author Alice Miller, concerning the implications of her work
with regard to world events today. Descriptions of those articles
will be found at a companion blog, The
Sacred Moment. Silber worked as an actor in the New York theater
many years ago. Upon relocating to Los Angeles in the late 1970s,
he worked in the film industry for several years. After pursuing
what ultimately proved to be an unsatisfying business career, he
decided to turn to writing full-time, a profession which he happily
© 2007 Arthur Silber