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Myths of Americanism and Identity

category donegal | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Wednesday September 17, 2003 16:58author by Ruairi - Donegal Peace Groupauthor email muscailt at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

Talk/article by Elizabeth Stamm

The below is a speech given by Elizabeth Stamm of the Second Flag Salute project in Philadelphia. She was speaking as part of the Donegal Peace Group's 'War on Trial' Public Forums. http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=60832

The Myths of Americanism and Identity

It is really difficult to explain my personal identity as an American because I have been fed so many contradictions as to what we are as a nation, who we believe ourselves to be, and what we are to feel about this.

For so long claiming to be American had little weight. Therefore, I often resorted to the roots of my ancestry which originated from Counties Cavan and Cork in Ireland and Essex, Germany. I rarely concerned myself with sentiments of patriotism. Instead I yearned only a sense of belonging and something conclusive regarding my identity as someone who was born and raised in the United States.

I thought I had come closer to an answer in September of 2001 when Al Quaeda forces struck the World Trade Center. 9/11 indubitably ignited solidarity among the nation and I believe that the people were basis for the fresh sense of patriotism that exploded throughout America. At first, I felt empowered by this, and relieved that my life had brought identity. I was no longer one lost soul in a large pool of unfamiliarity. I could now identify to a culture that others felt just as strong and proud to be a part of as I did.

Unfortunately, this sentiment was snatched from me when I wasn’t looking. The government saw an opportune moment to get a hold of something that was so important to its people, and something that was a disguise to so much vulnerability, and the Administration pounced on it like a savage animal. It is not the first time in history where an authoritarian government has used nationalism as a way to manipulate and assemble its people, but Americans still fell victim very hard and very fast to our government’s seizure of our prize possession.

All of a sudden, Americanism was supporting your troops, not questioning your government, and constantly trying to identify enemies in order to ensure safety. This seemed more like totalitarianism to me than it did democracy. Patriotism had become a sick game that the Administration used to rally its people around a cause that was not actually a cause.

I have often been told that we are the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world and that our country sets the standard of living for all other nations. Essentially, it is truly American to believe that we are under international attack because we live so well and have such opportunity and freedom. This concerns me for many reasons. I have no doubt that we are an extremely wealthy nation, if not the wealthiest in the world, monetarily speaking. But I only need to drive 20 minutes outside of my white, upper class community to bear witness upon third world conditions. So many pockets of our cities lack housing, health care, and basic education. Entire families and neighborhoods are seeking shelter in abandoned houses that have boards instead of windows, corners instead of toilets, and drugs instead of food. The US-Mexican border has become a dumping ground for raw sewage in addition to the fact that there is no clean water to drink and electricity is scarce. Diseases are rampant, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, rabies, and leprosy among our people. This is not first world, and this is not what other countries want.

But due to the manipulation of our government over the mass media and educational system, those removed from these situations are ignorant to its existence. We pride ourselves on freedom of speech, yet condemn and judge those who disagree with us. It is funnier to us to not know something, than it is important to know all that we can. We laugh with contempt at foreigners, yet depend on them for economic success. We expect a nation to rally around a man who fraudulently made his way to presidency and we kill people because of the color of their skin.

If this is Americanism, than I don’t want to have any part in it. Not that I have a choice because if I did, I would have to shut my mouth, wave a flag for an institution that covers up human rights abuses and traditionally uses force and violence as a means of achieving economic success, and I would have to turn a blind eye to the millions of people that are being killed, and the hundreds of thousands in our own country who receive no representation or respect because of who they are, not for what they have done.

It goes unspoken in the United States that just maybe the anti-Americanism spreading around that world stems from our wicked interventions and constant isolation of the poor. It goes unspoken that we have only ever have gotten involved in a foreign dispute or taken part in an agreement that holds economic interests for the rich. It goes unspoken that a majority of the people focus on the latest trends of the news, and never blink an eye as to what is happening in our own communities or in other areas of the world. It goes unspoken that about half of Americans are under the impression that Iraqis were flying the planes that crashed into the towers.

I was born and raised in the United States. I call myself American and I call myself a liberal, but on my own terms, not those that society, by that I mean the Bush Administration, dictates to me. I want to love this country and I want it to be the best place for all people and for it to be the land of equal opportunity. This is a nation that has a great concentration of immigrants and plethora of cultures, languages, and food. But while our states may geographically be united, our people are not. The potential of this country is endless and its human composition is beautiful and I am prepared to defend it and fight for it. So I am calling to all those out there to come together and work towards peace and justice.


Related Link: http://www.donegalforum.com
author by Justin Morahan - Peace Peoplepublication date Thu Sep 18, 2003 02:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a brilliant and brave composition. Few of us have been lucky enough to escape the narrow nationalism that is instilled in children everywhere but the moment of truth is magnificent in its unfolding.
Welcome, Elizabeth, to the Citizens of the World.

author by Dexterspublication date Thu Sep 18, 2003 02:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A whinging psychobabble self therapy session from yet another white wealthy pseudo-guilty american.

"Oh poor me, I am from the ricest country in the world and I am from the richest section, and all those poor black and yellow people - what can I do"

ELizabeth - ever campaign to raise your state taxes so as to pay for essential social services, or are you to busy whinging about the federal govt? It is time that the american liberal/left got real, your target is always the republicans in the white house yet education, welfare, health is primary the responsibilty of each state. Since you pay so little taxes they are in the dogs and yet it always "bush this, bush that". How about get your state's in order first. deliver proper social change, empower people, because surely if that can be done we (the world) won't end up with anymore lunatics in 1600 penn ave and won't have to put up with anymore of the nonsense you have spouted.

Until then don't expect any sympathy or understanding from me, your country is a joke, and a very sick one.

author by Indexpublication date Fri Sep 19, 2003 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just another anti US rant! As a matter of interest do you convince people of your argument by insulting them?

Yes the US has problems the gap between rich and poor is huge and the US is on the top of the list according to the UN on the gap between haves and have nots. Coincidently Ireland is in second place just behind the US. So if you want to criticise a country about welfare, heath service and racism maybe you should take a long hard look in the mirror before we criticise anyone. Ireland unfortunately is not much better.

By the way Dexter if you are so concerned about social change and empowering people will you be outside the Department of Education and Science on Wednesday to support the mothers who just got their childcare cut by VTOS?

More power to you Elizabeth!

author by Righteous Pragmatistpublication date Sun Sep 21, 2003 21:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

America is founded on freedom.
My views are pro-war. I support the war against terror absolutely and I am triumphant that the war in Iraq removed Saddam.
I detest the views of leftie peaceniks and wanker communists.
But the war is not solely for the benefit of right wing conservatives. The war is for all people everywhere in every country what ever religion, political view point and nationalist group who desire freedom and liberty to do what they want when they want and they way they choose.
If the war is lost Islamic terrorists will establish a world theocracy of unimaginable evil tolerating absolute submission and no possible dissent.
There will be no luxury for Elizabeth. She will be forced to wear a burka and submit to a husband or all other men folk against her will or else die by stoning. The dissent she expresses about her nation would not be tolerated by a Islamic nation if she were to criticise its warlike behaviour and tyranny against its people. she would probably be arrested tortured and executed.
In the U.S.A. the government tolerates and defends the rights of all its citizens. They are given the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to freedom of assembly, the right to property, the right to have an alternative political view. This exists as an ideal and it exists in fact.
After the War of Independence America established the first true modern democracy and so inspired the French Revolution and the spread of democracy around the world.
In World War 1 America defeated German imperialism which tried to re-establish a dying and failed political system.
In World War 2 America defeated Fascism which threatened to destroy civilised values universally held by all humanity.
In the Cold War ( World War 3) America defeated the evil of Communism which attempted to establish world slavery disguised as egalitarianism.
In the War on Terror ( World War 4) America is now establishing democracy worldwide.
The only reason that Elizabeth is able to say what she is saying is because America uses its military might to fight for people to say what ever the hell they like, do what ever the hell they like and live what ever the hell way they like with out harming anyone.
On 911 terrorists destroyed the WTC and killed thousands of innocents. Have you seen the pictures of the falling office workers, the faces of the dead firemen, the destruction wrought and shuddered at its sheer evil? Were you not enraged?
The people who did this are conspiring all the time to commit further acts of terror.
What the fuck do you think Bush was going to do?
sit around and wait for another terror strike.
He launched an invasion of Afghanistan and destroyed the Taliban, a campaign to hunt down capture or kill Al-Quaida terrorists and a war to liberate the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam who developed weapons of mass destruction.

Elizabeth should be proud to live in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave"
she can live in her dreamland if she wants. You know why? Cause the U.S. Army, USMC, USAF, CIA, NSA, FBI, Depatment for Homeland security will kick the asses of the terrorists who would wish her and every westerner dead because they do not follow a creed of extremist Islam.

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