From the October 2006 Idaho Observer:
Spiritual Felo De Se: Fealty to a moral abomination
by Jason Miller
"Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong."
~James Bryce (1838-1922)
On Sept. 20, 2006, populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had the sheer audacity to stand before the United Nations and deliver an angry diatribe against the enemy of humanity. Dispensing with mealy-mouthed pleasantries, he verbally savaged President Bush in his fiery oration. Chavez knows an abhorrent war criminal when he sees one and he isn’t one to mince words or use polite euphemisms.
George Bush had addressed the assembly the previous day with an incredibly disingenuous monologue loaded with platitudes and Orwellian Doublespeak.
Admittedly, Bush’s credibility around the world and his uncanny capacity to articulate complex global issues in an intelligent and compassionate manner made him a tough act to follow at the UN but, somehow, Chavez managed.
The lingering smell of sulphur
Following are a few of Chavez’ choice observations:
"The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulphur still today."
Bush may not actually be the devil, but he certainly qualifies as one of his Earthly agents. And Chavez may very well have been smelling residual sulfur fumes which had emanated from Satan himself. It is a virtual certainty that Lucifer was present for Bush’s virtuoso performance on 9/19. How could he have resisted watching his favorite sociopath’s attempt to beguile listeners into believing he is pursuing noble causes?
Chavez went on to assert: "As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: ‘The Devil’s Recipe.’"
Underscoring his blasphemy against the predatory capitalism inflicted on the world by the economic and military titan "affectionately" known as the American Empire, the champion of humane social democracy waved a copy of "Hegemony or Survival" by Noam Chomsky, a vehement domestic critic of the United States political and economic systems.
Chavez also noted that Bush "stole the elections" and "is, therefore, a dictator."
Tough point to argue given that Bush came to power via two bloodless coups, one engineered by Katherine Harris and the other Supreme Court—Diebold.
"Patriots" leap to defend "their" president
In the aftermath of Chavez’s blistering verbal attacks on U.S. imperialists and the miscreant conducting their symphony of the macabre, "patriots" emerged to defend "our" president
[Note: The White House chose to brand Chavez’ comments as cheap theatrics undeserving of a response even though most UN delegates from third-world countries indicated their support for the Venezuelan president’s comments with applause].
Given the overt fascism and aggressive militarism emerging in the United States, it is almost inconceivable that such a regime would continue to enjoy popular support. Yet economic tyranny, consumerism and relentless pressure to conform to the "American Way" are so powerful that many U.S. Americans have sold their very souls by offering voluntary complicity in the subjugation, exploitation and (in some instances) extermination of millions of human beings around the globe.
And some of these "patriots" originate from some surprising segments of the United States’ population.
New York Democrat Charles Rangel, a member of the treasonous U.S. Congress which has enabled the Bush administration in its steady march toward becoming a tyrannical regime, took serious umbrage to Chavez’ remarks: "You don’t come into my country; you don’t come into my congressional district and you don’t condemn my president."
How telling that a member of the opposition party in a self-proclaimed "democratic nation" would publicly support a war criminal and characterize him as "my president." Rangel may as well have stated, "He may be a ruthless potentate, but he is OUR ruthless potentate—and don’t you dare travel to my country and criticize George W. Bush!
Sadly, the reality in the United States is that there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats. While both parties give ample lip service to meeting the needs of the working class and the poor, most of the "Duopoly’s" "elected" officials zealously devote themselves to advancing the interests of their corporate and aristocratic friends who donate generously to election campaigns.
Some might defend Rangel’s remarks as evidence of his "patriotism" or allegiance to his nation. Yet the virulent nationalism that has swept the United States since 9/11 is not a healthy loyalty to fellow countrymen. "Patriotism" in the United States today is a symptom of the rapidly spreading malignancy of fascism. Sadly, being a "patriot" in the United States requires one to support egregious crimes against humanity, domestically and abroad.
The type of patriotism in vogue among Bush supporters today was defined by anarchist Emma Goldman (1869-1940): "Patriotism ....is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit."
Given its economic might and obsession with militarism, the United States is certainly strong. But righteous? While she may be 305 feet of towering nobility, Lady Liberty is up to her eyeballs in the fetid fecal matter ceaselessly flowing from the bowels of an empire built on economic oppression, genocide, bellicosity, racism, and the pernicious lie known as "the American Dream."
Even some of the most oppressed people in history have succumbed to this infection of pathological "patriotism." A group of indigenous people in Alaska recently refused Chavez’s offer of free heating oil.1 Facing 25 percent unemployment rates, winter temperatures as low as minus 15 Fahrenheit, and heating bills of $300 per month, these psychologically-enslaved individuals rejected Venezuela’s assistance because Chavez insulted George Bush.
Bear in mind that these are people descended from victims of genocide waged by the predecessors of Bush and the members of his regime. Despite surviving the attempted extermination, these Native Americans face significant structural barriers to overcoming perpetual poverty, including years of under-education and political disenfranchisement.
Yet Justine Gunderson of the tribal council for the Aleuts in Nelson Lagoon is convinced that they "did the right thing" by choosing to suffer to defend a war criminal’s "honor": "As a citizen of this country, you can have your own opinion of our president and our country. But I don’t want a foreigner coming in here and bashing us. Even though we’re in economically dire straits, it was the right choice to make."
Dimitri Philemonof, another leader in the Aleutian community, further exhibited the efficacy of the U.S. corporate propaganda mill when he opined: "I think we have some duty to our country, and I think it’s loyalty."
Many of those Justine and Dimitri represent have been doomed to the misery of chronic poverty by years of institutionalized racism. Yet they live in a state inundated with the oil for which they pay such an outrageous price. And they have chosen to forsake their own well-being out of loyalty to the guardians of a rapacious economic system principally dominated by wealthy elites of European descent—the same elites who tenaciously strive to ensure that the poor and minorities continue to wallow in wretchedness. No matter how adversely the policies of the elites affect Americans like the Aleuts, at least they can still wave the Stars and Stripes with pride.
Back to Chavez
Hugo Chavez embodies nearly everything the working class and poor in the United States have been indoctrinated to fear, hate and ridicule. Like Evo Morales in Bolivia, Chavez champions indigenous poverty-stricken people and their long unfulfilled needs. Both men are on the cutting edge of a South American political revolution in which the people are wresting power and resources away from corporations and the minority wealthy elite. Morales’ administration is in its infancy, but Chavez has had time to deliver free health care, free education, and food at subsidized prices to many of the staggering numbers of Venezuelans who had been living in abject poverty in a nation flush with huge reserves of precious petroleum. 2
[Note: In April, 2002, a CIA-sponsored, U.S.-supported coup attempt failed to replace the popular President Chavez with a regime endorsed by Venezuela’s corporately-wealthy elite. The story was filmed as it unfolded by an Irish film crew and is now available under the title, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." It is a fascinating and inspiring documentary that proves presidents whose policies generate popular support from commoners are a threat to the global network of elitist corporate interests. Do not be fooled by charges of the media and the Bush administration that Chavez is a leftist dictator whose best friend is U.S. nemesis Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Chavez example is a powerful lesson for Americans: The media distorts your perception of reality by parroting the deceptions laid by government mouthpieces].
Back to Bush
Meanwhile, in the United States, Bush and his accomplices have persistently striven to replace a constitutional republic with a fascist regime. Invading and occupying a nation that posed no viable threat the United States and had no connection with 9/11, exterminating an estimated 655,000 innocent Iraqis3, legalizing torture, staging fraudulent elections, jettisoning the Constitution and legal principles dating back to the Magna Carta (1215) and consistently advancing the interests of the super rich at the expense of the working class and vulnerable members of society4,5,6,7 qualify the U.S. government as a fascist regime.
[Note: Bush and his "accomplices" rarely appear publicly any more because they are met with so much public opposition. Instead, they meet privately at by-invitation-only meetings with their supporters—the wealthiest, corporately-vested people in the community].
In Bush’s "ownership society," a relatively tiny slice of the population does most of the owning.8 Lulled into a dogmatic slumber, many U.S. Americans are content to fulfill the roles of obedient workers and consumers. Bread and circuses, the idealization of "go it alone, rugged individualism" personified by cultural icons like the Marlboro Man, and the perpetuation of the delusion that their nation is a meritocracy serve to cripple the minds and consciences of many citizens of the United States.
Thus those leaders (like Chavez) who fight for the poor and oppressed are treated as threats and pariahs, champions of the privileged elite like Reagan are enshrined in the pantheon of American politics, and malefactors in the Bush Regime garner enough support to continue perpetrating their heinous crimes.
Thomas Paine penned these words in The American Crisis: "These are times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered."
Today’s American Crisis?
These are the times that enslave men’s souls. And the hell of the Bush Regime will not be easily conquered.
Tragically, many spiritually shackled U.S. Americans remain blissfully ignorant of their bondage. And a myriad of myths and distractions shield them from awareness of (or concern for) their complicity in the United States’ over-consumption that threatens the perpetuation of life on Earth 9, genocide10,11 and campaigns of mass murder like the one in Vietnam.
Relentless psychological manipulation has armed the U.S. ruling elite with a vast army of "patriots" eagerly submitting to the yoke of economic subjugation and enabling governments like the Bush Regime to inflict abject misery upon hundreds of millions of human beings.
The staggering 43 percent of U.S. Americans who still embrace a tyrant who has unleashed hell upon the world with impunity12 are a testament to the power of the siren call to be a "patriot" in the United States.
If the melodious strains of Orpheus’ lyre don’t captivate more listeners soon, the ship of humanity may be doomed to share a watery grave with mythological mariners.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically, his essays have appeared widely on the Internet, and he volunteers at a homeless shelter. He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
Felo de Se: An out-of-date legal term meaning "felon unto oneself"; usually associated with suicide.