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View Diary: Mass Graves ... But Not in Iraq (43 comments)

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  •  We can do no wrong... (4.00)
    My thought process got interrupted and I had to leave for a while.  I think I had a point with the above post...oh yeah...

    The point I was going to make is this:  The American people are, for the most part, ignorant of the authentic history of this country and clueless about current foreign policy.  We function on Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" doctrine.  We don't ask too many questions and hope no one will tell us the truth.  That way we can go on believing the myth of America, "land of the free" (rich white men). We can continue to think we are somehow special and above all peoples and nations.  We can continue to believe we can do no wrong.

    Our government demonizes other nation's leaders when it suits their purposes, and since we remain ignorant of our own-sorted history, we believe the "us" and "them" stories.  Remember, this is America and we can do no wrong.  So we are easily manipulated into questionable adventures and think what we are doing is right and good. We wave our flags and sing our patriotic songs. We never want to entertain the possibility we might be wrong in any way at any time. For God's sake, this is America, land of manifest destiny, and we can do no wrong.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to reform. -- Mark (Samuel Clemens) Twain

    by pacifica on Mon Feb 16, 2004 at 05:05:29 AM PST

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    •  it is difficult to address this in public schools (4.00)
      because there will always be the parent or school board member who screams that I am tearing down our country when I point out things we have done that violate our own rules.

      I often will point out that we executed a Japanese general not because he had ordered his troops to commit atrocities, but because he had failed to prevent them from so doing.

      I then offer up My Lai, where the most severe punishment for the several hundred dead civilians was Lt William Calley serving about 3 years.  I ask my studnets how they think this wold play in other countries?   Thye clearly 'get it" and so far I have not been chastised .

      We have an unfortunate history of atrocities that go back to the earliset colonial times   - shal we talk about King Phillip's War in New England, for example?  We also are not fully hoenst about the motivations of some our first settlers.  We tend to overlook that the Puritans hung Qaukers (including Mary Dwyer) because they would not accept the Puritan vision of religion, or that the celbrated Act of Tleration in Maryland actually prescirbed death fro anyone who denied the Holy Trinity.

      Of course, given how ignorant so many of our "leaders" are about our history and even about our Constitution, it is not at all surprising to me that we el;ide over the wrongs for which we as a society are responsible  -- and we are ALL responsible when our governments, federal, state, and local, take actions in our name that are wrong, dscriminatory, even atrocious.

      Here I think of Thoreau, in jail for refusing to pay his Mexican War tax, being visited by Emerson, who asks why Thoreau is in joai.  Thoreau responds by asking why Emerson is not in jail.

      Part of my problem with many political leaders is their unwillingness to take a stand.  I can disagreed with where lineds are drawn  - I certainly disagree with Dean that it was necessary to go into tyhe first Gulf War because an ally was attacked  - here I think he is factually wrong.  Kywait was not our ally, we had given iraq a green lgith to take over part of gthe disputed territory and the two islands at the N of the Gulf, but were surprised when they seized the entire nation.   BUT  - there was NO evidence they were intending to go further, that they were about to invade Saudi Arabia, for example.   m I thinkwe wrong to arm Saddam 9wincluidng with chenmical and billogical weapons material, asd well as intelligence) when he invaded Iran, and we we certainly wrong to send Rumsfeld to unofficially assure him when he apparently used chemical weaponbs against the Iranians.  Kuwait was not our ally, having denied the use of its hosptials when the USS Stark was hit by an Iraqi Exocet missile, a point explicitly made, btw, by Fritz Hollings.

      But at least Dean stood up for something.  Far too many stick the wet finger ujp into the poltiical winds to see which way they blow.  That is not leadership.  If we honestly tuaght what much of our political leadership has done in our names, many would be disgusted, or perhaps rise in righteous anger.  

      As a public school teacher, I attempt to teach my students not to automatically ac cept what those in authority tell them.  I give them credit for finding mistakes in the textbook, and for finding mistakes in what I say or write  -- I sometimes deliberately make mistakes to see if they are paying attention.  I try to teach them how to take apart arguments, so that they can realize when they are being given, or example, a non-denial denial.  Two Bush examples:   41 vociferously argues that he was not in Paris in Oxctober 1980, but never says he was not in france  -- he could well avhe flown to an airport outside of Paris and met on the October surprise, without actually being within Paris.   43 says that he was given an honorable discharge, which proves he fulfilled his military commitment, but cannot "remember" when or where he reported for duty in Alabama.   Non-denial-denilas should raise red flags.

      An unillingness to be honest about our failings as an ations and as people leads to disillusionment and a corruption of what the Democratic process should be.  once people are convinced that their government may lie to them, they have little reason except fear and good will to believe anything else a politician or the government tells them.

      Unfortunately, to the yese of many in power the purpose of public schools is not to crate intelligent and actived citizens, far from it.  The purpose is to train a compliant work force for major corporations, and to have a ready source of bodies for a military.  Many in power do not now want to reinstitute national service (which many of them som ehow avoided) so that those in the ranks cannot complain when they are used for imperialistic and corporate interventions around the world.

      I'd llike to think the best of all people.   And I try to respond as much as I can to that which is positive in others:  as Paul notes, "Hold fast that which is good."  But I do not place higher value on corfporate profits than I do working conditions and secure future for the workers.   i certainly do not think family background, influence and wealth should remove one from compliance to the same rules and responsibilities faced by most people.  And while I believe that as an ideal among many (such as equal justice before the law) the US can be a shining light to other nations, are unwillingness to adress our own failings honestly merely betrays our hypocrisy to the rest of the world, and thereby undercuts any special role we might have to play, beyond the fact that we may now hae overwhelming military superiority over any country.

      I would remind people that Britain had overwhelming military superiority over the colonists, but of itself it was insufficient to put down the rebellion.  To many British officers, our refusal to stand up to and be crushed by thyeir superior military strength marked us as waht we today would describe as terrorists, unwilling to play by rules that would guarantee a loss.  Unless and until we can see ourselves with the yes of others, we will be doomed to repeat the stupid errors to which we as a people seem so prone, and will not undersatnd why so many view us as arrogant.

      Unless and until we can accept that the American way (assuming that there is one American way, whjich is itself arguable) is the only way for a country to go, we are doomed to failure in our attempts to impose our vision upon the world.   We can invite others, we cannot impose.

      In a poll elsewhere on dailykos I vogted for Lincoln as our greatest president.  I will probably get the quote wrong, but he once said "as I would not be a slave, neither would I be a master."  We as a nation and a society need to ponder the meaning of this, and as individuals think about our own actions and attitudes.

      For those who think my attitudes too extreme, or that I have no business in a classroom, flame me all you want. I tell my students that my job is not to convert them to my point of view.  Rather it is to empower them to be able to articulate their own point of view, and to be able to effectively challenge the points of view of others with whom they may disagree.  In the process I may create my own worst nightmare:  an effective, persuasive, and articulate advocate of a position I abhor.  If so, I have done my job as a teacher.  

      i m a teacher & proud of it

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 16, 2004 at 01:21:31 PM PST

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      •  Teacherken (none)
        I wish my son was in your class. We need a lot more teachers like you.

        And it's you guys that should be getting the attention and making the money that someone like Alex Rodriguez is currently getting.

        Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like - GWB

        by jazzlover on Mon Feb 16, 2004 at 01:49:47 PM PST

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      •  Let us all be courageous teachers. (none)
        Glad there are a teachers like you around, teacherken.  Reminds me of my AP US Histroy teacher back in the 70's, who with facts disabused us of the false history we'd been taught, and who showed us how to think and argue based on facts.  He and one college professor are probably the most influential people in my life in helping me understand Amercica and it's politics.

        Keep up the good work.

        And for the rest of us, as jazzlover writes a few entries further down, remember we can teach our own children how to see through lies and challenge spin and sloppy thinking.  I'm very proud my two young teenagers can at times demolish my reasoning, and that they both sometimes try to help their peers see through the myths spun by certain politicos and certain of their parents.

        And one other ray of hope.  Even though I live in a very rightwing community, I hear snippets about teachers who are teaching at least some of the skills and truths that you do, teacherken.

        Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

        by Civil Sibyl on Tue Feb 17, 2004 at 12:06:29 AM PST

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