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Ain't We Some?


This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 04, 2001.

Have a good one.

The Fourth is usually the day that Americans fall from their normal perch of excessively high self regard and climb upward to the pinnacle of complete and utter delusion. From the very beginning, the extremes of the typical July 4th rant were the subject of satire. Here is an example from a piece in the latter part of the nineteenth century. It is by George Derby, who wrote under the name John Phoenix. Please compose yourself for this solemn moment.

For on this day, the great American eagle flaps her wings, and sails aloft, until it makes your eyes sore to look at her, and looking down on her myriads of free and enlightened children, with flaming eye, she screams "E Pluribus Unum!", which may be freely interpreted, "Ain't I some?" and myriads of freemen answer back with joyous shout: "You are, punkins!"

It is now, of course, difficult to say whether the satire is an all purpose snicker at the overblown gunk that emanated from Chautauqua tent and town squares or a specific slam against the threat of racial equality then perking, but the effect is the same. Public speakers, now replaced by sanctimonious blowhards on the radio and television, have for two and one quarter centuries found the drool spigot and opened it wide. So dump your drink and let me freshen it for you.

By any standard, we are the wealthiest nation ever. Croessus never looked upon, could never imagine, the proportional wealth that Greenspan does. It will go very ill for us if we do not exercise the noblesse oblige of, well, our fictions and elevate the species, primarily by saving others. So how we doin'? Well, we are the oldest functioning government in the world. There is no genuinely independent government older than ours. What was England was the British Empire, than the United Kingdom. We have always been the United States.

We are the most hypocritical country in the world, where overweight Senators decry abortion as an abomination against God, but are cheerfully willing to use the fetal matter to endlessly extend their own lives against the wishes of that same God. Endless money for stem cell research, Viagra, and henna preparation; not a dime for sexual education or birth control. Ah, white men of Christ.

We have become accustomed to vengeance without a clue or interest in what the judicial system is like; that is, until our own children get arrested, then lie, disseminate, equivocate, pay for terrifying attorneys. The mentally retarded will fry alongside the Ted Bundys. If we are not going to imprison for life a first time felon, what is the point of sending him to prison to train him for more vicious crimes?

The concept that the common person is chronically capable of voting for competent, reasonably honorable government is the conceptual gift of this nation to the world. Fascism, Marxism all fought against that as heartily as the monarchies.

We are among the few imperialist powers who gave back their colonies when we did not have to for military or financial reasons. This does not exonerate us for taking them in the first place. Contrary to myth, we have lost a number of wars besides Vietnam, but we always won the peace. We lost the War of 1812, but the Treaty of Gent won us the peace. We lost the war against Red Cloud, and the Seminoles, and probably other police actions no longer recalled. We have cheerfully waged several wars of aggression, the Mexican War being the most blatant, but the Spanish American War and the Philippine suppressions were awful, savage, and greedy endeavors. No wars against an Indian tribe were ever declared by Congress. They were all police actions. We fought for less than a year in World War One. That was the war, by the way, that destroyed the Monroe Doctrine, for we meddled in Europe. Remember that.

The Civil War killed about as many Americans as all the others put together, but we honor the Confederates, who fought for slavery and against the power of a Federal government to exert itself against their selfishness. The flag the South didn't honor in its time is now suggested for veneration: the very symbol of violent treason.

Virtually all rights held by working people, envied around the world, are the results of heroic and violent rebellions by labor unions in this country against calcified financial interests. The people who listen to Rush Limbaugh can afford to because of those they libel. Yet it was a flawed hero, Henry Ford, who dared suggest that laborers were the potential consumers, an unbelievably untested concept, and so meaningful wages were granted leading to immense wealth, the fairness in the proportions thereof still debated.

There has been no major war in Europe for fifty five years because of the United States. Yugoslavia has just suggested what the alternatives would have been like.

We are the cultural center of the world; they think so even if we don't.

Our food is pretty good these days, and we grow most of it.

As should be expected, we excel in most sports much of the time. There is no science without the United States. It is foolish to say there would be another country with the cash. It's cash and will and the immense deep well of an educated citizenry and our incredibly endowed universities, which are the results of our specific history. Hey, ask anyone from overseas where they want their kids to study.

There is no excuse for our racial bigotry and all the related crap. It can only be said, as we look at England, Malaysia, India, and South America, that we handled it better and sooner and with more honesty than others.

Ain't we some? We is, I guess. And then some.