This is not America

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For some time now, I’ve been feeling very anti-American, and guilty for it. I’ve always loved my country, but now instead of loving it for what it is, it’s for what it was. But I came to a kind of detente with the guilt in the last few days. How can I feel at all anti-American when America isn’t America anymore?

It’s been well-documented, and it’s certainly consistent with the policies and actions of the Republican Party after Lincoln, that the only people who really count in the United States today are the wealthy minority. And much of what they enjoy today was taken away from the rest of us, lower and middle income alike. We got ours, they say, now you get yours. But much of what they regard as "theirs" used to be "ours."

I was in Mexico for a few hours over the weekend — a sleaze-run from San Diego to Tijuana — and was greeted almost immediately by hand-lettered sign after sign offering deep discounts on name-brand pharmaceuticals and 24-hour medical and dental clinics, right along with best-in-town margaritas, cheap package liquor, fake Cuban cigars, switchblades, bullwhips and specialty-act strippers. So? So Americans cross that grimy border routinely to buy the drugs and the health care they can’t afford here. And they’re willing to take the chance on a stinking storefront and potentially fake drugs not only because of cost, but because they’re desperate. Americans?

While federal security agents confiscated nail clippers and Bic lighters from airline passengers across the country, I watched a young guy scale a forbidding iron-rail barricade three times his height, flip over the top like an Olympian, drop to the ground on the other side and disappear. The fence, and the kid who disappeared over it, were directly beside the old San Ysidro customs house, presumably an integral element in our "war on terror." The customs check itself was a farce — two fat, slovenly U.S. agents lounging on folding chairs, idly waving people through with hardly a glance at them or their baggage scanner. But while flying, we can all rest easy that no 80-year-old granny with an expired driver’s license and a mean pair of fingernail scissors is going to break into the cockpit and take out the crew.

Why do we sit passively and agree to all this? Because our government makes sure every day that we’re terrified, diverting attention from its illegal war, the one being fought at great loss of life and limb by our sons and daughters, not theirs. (To ensure that we don’t see the true cost of the war, battle zone reporting is curtailed and press access is blocked when the bodies come back home in "transfer tubes," the emotionally neutral name now used for body bags.)

Gun-related murder and maiming is so common in our cities that crimes far surpassing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre — the most notorious mass-murder of its era — now are skipped over in favor of celebrity diddling, bugs-and-bowels "reality" shows, sports, fashion, videogame news or the endlessly fascinating disappearance or murder of cute young white women.

This and more fundamentally un-American stuff continue and grow under a hypocritical, smug, self-righteous theocracy that brazenly defies the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. But, hey, fuck the Constitution and the horses it rode in on — except when it comes to revisionist interpretation of the Second Amendment, buddy.

Makes you want to head off to someplace where medicine puts healing over profit and politics, most crime is property crime, quality education is available to everyone, the country isn’t reviled by most of the rest of the world, and you can have Xanax and Cialis for a song.

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