Coups, Destabilization, & Disavow:
American as Apple Pie
By: Solomon Comissiong
“The propaganda system allows the U.S. leadership to commit crimes without limit and with no suggestion of misbehavior or criminality; in fact, major war criminals like Henry Kissinger appear regularly on TV to comment on the crimes of the derivative butchers.”
Edward S. Herman, political economist and author
Millions of confused and systematically programmed Americans subsist, day to day, believing that the country they reside in is the gold standard for truth, justice, and freedom. Nothing could further from the truth! Their insistence upon believing whatever is fed to them from their government, the corporate media, and government sanctioned educational centers keeps a great many Americans as an integral part of the overall problem. Many Americans have grown comfortable living sheltered lives. They find solace in the fictional belief that their nation, and its government, has always stood for freedom, democracy and justice—-the “American way’. This kind of limited and myopic nationalistic thinking makes it that much more difficult for America to reach its true potential. In the same way that far too many “Christian” children know much more about Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, than they do Jesus Christ; Americans are in love with the false idea that their nation is the world’s paragon of freedom, democracy and justice. Children cling to the fantasy of Santa Claus because it has been fed to them by their parents, media, and even society, as a whole. Children walk into this world with a tabula rasa and, for better or worse; they develop ideas and general understandings on everything from culture, society and yes—even gravitationally challenged men named Santa Claus. However, children have an excuse—they are children. Their impressionable minds have been shaped by traditional values (no matter how far fetched) going back generations. What is the excuse for so-called educated adult Americans?
For the critically astute mind, it is sometimes easier to believe in good ole Saint Nick than it should be to believe in many of the contradictory values floating around America’s mental atmosphere. Unfortunately many Americans are far from critically astute. Unfortunately, just like children believing in the Easter Bunny, adult Americans have been fed a steady diet of lies, inaccuracies, and half-truths—-for much of their lives. They have systematically been programmed to be as non-critically engaged as humanly possible. It has become much easier for scores of Americans to cling to mythological notions regarding their country than to ask difficult questions and to seek out even more difficult answers.
Many American adults, despite being “mature”, fail to ask the tough questions regarding their country’s concentrated wealth and its ballooning global presence. They have become comfortable with the little they get in return from their tax dollars so long as they can foolishly tout that they are “number 1”. In essence, they have bought in to all of the lies that their surrogate parents (the government) continue to sell them—-no matter how incredulous.
Myriad US citizens have become quite comfortable echoing the hollow chant, “USA number one, USA number one, USA number one”. What is the USA number one in exactly, and why the excessive competitive nature? Truth of the matter is the US is number one is some very unflattering rubrics such as military expenditure (more the almost the rest of the world combined), prison expenditure, and obesity (having a lot to do with a lack of affordable healthy alternatives accessible to the masses). Despite the passing of a deceptive health insurance reform bill, the US remains the only industrialized nation without a social contract that provides quality healthcare for all of its citizens. What good is it to boast being among the most opulent nations on the planet if that opulence cannot benefit the masses? The wealth in America is concentrated within the rapacious hands of a minute number of citizens and corporations. The painful truth, if most Americans knew, is that their government is much more beholden to the mega-corporations than they are to the people. As a matter of fact, in many cases, US corporations have worked hand-in-hand with the American government in plundering, pillaging and destabilizing other governments—-all in the name of so-called freedom and democracy. It is a travesty that so many Americans continue to insist upon believing that when their government has engaged in an overseas conflict, it is because they are somehow doing it in the interest of that country’s people. Some even believe that in some way, shape, form or fashion that it benefits Americans and protects their civil liberties from an unknown “foreign” threat. These false notions have been known to send many Americans in to a blood thirsty frenzy mindlessly beating the war drums for their puppet masters on Capitol Hill and Wall Street.
The US government has long used the corporate media to help promote its ill-fated wars, coups and injustices to the American people. The examples are almost endless. A case in point could be the 1954 US backed (and organized) coup of the government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala. Led by the likes of then Vice President Richard Nixon, the CIA and public relations hit man, Edward Bernays, the US masterminded a coup that eventually overthrew Arbenz. They did this all in the self-interest of the US and its corporate interests like that of United Fruit Company (Chiquita). Arbenz’ crime was that he tried to institute land reform in the interest of Guatemalan peasant farmers instead of in the interest of the US and the evil United Fruit Company (Chiquita). This is reason enough never to purchase anything sold in the interest of Chiquita ever again. When Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently apologized to the Guatemalan government for the United States government purposefully infecting Guatemalan citizens with syphilis from 1946-1948 she curiously omitted an apology for what the US did in 1954. This US organized, supported and founded coup led to decades of dictatorial rule, death squads, and mass repression of the poor. In 2010, Guatemala has yet to fully recover from the US’s crimes against it. Perhaps Hillary Clinton, nor Barack Obama, said anything of this because US engineered coups are supposed to be acceptable so long as America is orchestrating them. And of course the US corporate media (from MSNBC to FOX News) made no mention of the US’s involvement in destabilizing Guatemala in 1954. As mentioned earlier, they are a part of the nefarious system that keeps chugging along. Malcolm X said it best in 1964:
“The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press.” . . . .If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
At the Audubon”, 12/13/1964,
Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements, Ballantine Books, 1964
When democratically elected leaders of resource rich developing nations make the bold move break the yoke of dependence from colonial masters, as well as to try to place more wealth in the hands of the people; the US has a tainted history of either demonizing them or simply “removing” them. This came to be the fate of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo. Patrice Lumumba was prime minister of Congo no more than a few months before the US engineered a coup, through the CIA, which permanently removed him from office and from this earth. Lumumba was murdered, chopped in to pieces with a hacksaw and placed in to sulfuric acid so that his body could never be recovered. The US, Belgium and their hit man for hire ( Mobutu Sese Seko) were all culpable in this horrific crime, but make no bones about it—-the US government from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the CIA, had their DNA all over the crime scene. Without the US’s manufacturing, financing and providing unwavering support of this coup (and the subsequent brutal murder of Patrice Lumumba); it may never have happened. This is one of the more reprehensible crimes that the vast majority of Americans may never learn about—-and certainly not within its true context.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, like Guatemala, has yet to recover from the brutal crimes the United States committed against it and its people. The vast majority of Guatemala’s people are among the poorest within Latin America. Despite being resource rich over 51 percent of Guatemalans subsist on less than two dollars a day. Guatemala today is very much under the repressive boot of neoliberal policies engineered by the likes of the US, World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund). The enormous Guatemalan wealth disparity plays a significant role in allowing countries like the US to continually benefit from Guatemalan resources and labor at the expense of native Guatemalans.
The Congolese people are among the poorest on the planet despite living on land that is among the most resource rich throughout the globe. You can find an abundance of strategic minerals throughout Congo such as: copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, and coltan (among a multitude of others). The overwhelming majority of Congolese live on less than a dollar a day meanwhile multinational corporations from the West generate billions of dollars of revenue, each year, on the mass extraction of Congo’s minerals. Intense fighting, primarily within Congo’s northeast region, has amounted to approximately 6 million deaths since the late 1990s. Despite the alarming number of civilians raped, mutilated and murdered in Congo there has been very little US corporate media attention. And certainly no mainstream attention that would rightfully rest a significant portion of the blame on western governments and the rapacious multinational corporations housed within them—-perhaps it is because they, too, benefit from death and destruction in Congo. This was not the vision the late great Patrice Lumumba had for Congo. His vision was much different. He saw the vast mineral wealth of Congo benefitting its people first and foremost. This laudable vision was seen by the US as a detriment to American interests, therefore the barbarians in Washington decided to have Lumumba “eliminated” regardless of the consequences that would ultimately be inflicted upon Congo’s people. Fifty years later, the Congolese are still suffering from destructive directives that came directly from Washington. For more information on the historical and present day context surrounding Congo, as well as what you can do to help; please visit Friends of the Congo and All Things Pass.
The dirty, but true, historical information regarding the US government’s crimes against humanity unfortunately do not begin or end with Guatemala and Congo. There are many, many more crimes that took place within US “borders” as well as outside. This history needs to be taught in every public high school in America. Why you may ask—-to prevent future crimes from occurring in the name of US citizens. Building a “better” and more socially conscious generation of Americans is the only way we can ensure an ameliorated future for the rest of the globe, especially the global south. Far too many crimes against humanity have been plotted and perpetrated at the behest of repugnant American politicians and insatiable US corporations. The two (US politicians and corporations) have long been doing business with one another no matter how detrimental the outcome is for tens of millions of people.
As long as US citizens continue to blindly support the two corporate parties that run Washington (Democrats and Republicans), the interests of a few will primarily be taken in to account. Capitol Hill is littered with filthy corporate lobbyists representing everything from the bloated military industry to the disingenuous health insurance industry, and everything in between. Their blood money routinely makes its way in to the deep pockets of amoral politicians that have been paid for since their election campaigns. Profits before the people rules the day. The US is much more of a kleptocracy and plutocracy than it is a democracy. The democracy myth seems to primarily exist within the minds of those who have continually allowed themselves to be systematically programmed by the state and all of its sanctioned organs. If we are to ever see a better society within the US, and the world general, we need to break out of some old habits regarding how we look at politics. Routinely supporting Democrats or Republicans only plays in to the hands of the ruling class. We must educate our communities in a much more progressive manner, be consistent in our community galvanizing efforts, and mobilize neighborhood by neighborhood. Quite frankly the next generation, as well as the world, depends on it.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: email@example.com