America’s shame

There are so many reasons to be ashamed of being an American in the age of Bush. This comes from Bush’s former chief cheerleader and shrillest proponent of the Iraq war.

Remember the hanging and beating of an Afghan prisoner at Bagram, while his knees were pummeled to a pulp until he died? The second soldier implicated has just been acquitted. The bottom line in the AP story is the following: “No one has been charged with the detainee’s death.” As one of the other soldiers said in a previous investigation: “I just don’t understand how, if we were given training to do this, you can say that we were wrong and should have known better.” The shame deepens. They’re not even scape-goating any more. No one is accountable for the U.S. military torturing someone to death. And, yes, the victim was hooded at the time he was beaten. It’s the American way now.

While I can’t let Sully off the hook for his past blind devotion to all things Bush, I do salute him for having the courage to consider the evidence and revise his analysis. There is a time to flip-flop, and it is often a sign of strength and moral convictionn, not weakness.

The Discussion: 32 Comments

You know Richard, I’m an American.

That is part of who I am and I have never been ashamed of that. Ashamed of my government at times, but never Ashamed of being an American.

Maybe you need to rethink that statement.

September 10, 2005 @ 9:58 am | Comment

No Gordon, I really don’t agree. When I see a story like this, I am ashamed to tell people I am an American. The license to torture and kill non-Americans, with no accountability or justice, makes me ashamed of my country, just as I felt after Abu Ghraib and when I saw Bush idiotidcally playing the guitar and having a ball as New Orleans drowned. I am not saying I don’t love my country. But these stories are shameful, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel ashamed to be an American. Often I feel very proud and very lucky to be an American. In fact, I nearly always feel lucky to be an American, as US citizenship offers tremendous privileges and advantages. However, when stories like these come out, being a US citizen can also be embarrassing and shame-inducing.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:04 am | Comment

Well you see Richard, that’s another area where we differ. I’ve met a lot of Chinese people who are ashamed of their government, but no matter what, they are never ashamed of their country or where they come from.

I respect that.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:22 am | Comment

What can I say? I see stories like this and I feel ashamed to be an American. I don’t hate America or disrespect it, but I am ashamed to be associated, as an American, with stories that describe how Americans can torture, maim and murder at will and hide behind their government.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:28 am | Comment

What can I say? I see stories like this and I feel ashamed to be an American. I don’t hate America or disrespect it, but I am ashamed to be associated, as an American, with stories that describe how Americans can torture, maim and murder at will and hide behind their government

What can I say, you’re an emotional guy. You seem to feel first and think later. I’m guilty of that too at times.

You know damn well that those who have committed such acts do not represent the whole of our Armed Forces, let alone America and by making the statements that you have, you have painted us all with a broad brush.

I resent that.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:42 am | Comment

I’m not the first or only one who has said they’ve felt ashamed to be an American after Abu Ghraib. I’d have been ashamed to be Chinese under Mao. I find such an admission a sign of character. I’d have far more respect for those who admitted they were ashamed to be Chinese under Mao than those who said they were proud. And for Americans who admit they were ashamed to be an American when those pictures from Abu Ghraib, or this story of the butchery of an Afghan prisoner, came out.

You, my friend, seem to be the one getting emotional. ๐Ÿ™‚

I suggest you try to get over it. You’ll be hearing it from a lot more Americans in the days ahead, with a great deal of justification.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:50 am | Comment

Last thing Gordon: Check this out.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:58 am | Comment

America is a better than the current debacle surrounding the Katrina response suggests. We’ve offered so much to the world for so long and the world has given so much to us. Like other countries across history, we make big mistakes. Where there is great power, money, wide-ranging action, love or compassion, error can also be great. But the fact that so many people are taking so much action for the victims of Katrina is heartening and, I would venture, uniquely American.

That we can exhibit a healthy distrust of our government and debate about it in public forums like this one (or take public action reflecting our conscience) is worth celebrating. It doesn’t work that way in most countries. Why be ashamed? Bad things will happen no matter what. Continue to be strong and challenge concrete evils (instead of trying to realize abstract goods).

September 10, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment

I’ve been an American for many years, for my entire life. I have never had occasion to be ashamed of my country until 2003. I am ashamed of our immature, ineffective leaders and the way they have raped my country’s image. I never would have dreamed we would license torture and excuse murder. I never dreamed our president would duck responsibility and abandon the mantra that’s defined all great US presidents: The buck stops here.

I was very proud to be an American after 911. I rallied to my president and shared our grief and celebrated our heroic response. But no matter how great we have been, nothing excuses the current state of affairs, and I am ashamed of it. Sorry, it’s the way I and many others feel. And I won’t just moan about it; I will do all in my very limited power to restore the country to its once great position. The first step is acknowledging where things stand and speaking out.

September 10, 2005 @ 11:39 am | Comment

Richard,

Of course you’re not the first person to say that you’re ashamed of being an American…liberals have been saying that pussy shit for years.

Whatever!

Grow a backbone.

You can try to turn the tables on me all you want, but you’re the emotional blogger here. It’s a part of who you are. You flail your arms about and run around screaming “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” all the time.

I’m not saying that shit doesn’t go wrong with our government and within our soldiers ranks, but unlike other countries they are held accountable.

I’m an American and I know many other damn fine Americans – many of them are soldiers that hold honor and integrity higher than you do and by saying that you are ashamed of being an American – you are saying that you are ashamed of everyone in this country.

Screw you pal!

September 10, 2005 @ 11:39 am | Comment

I was very proud tyo be an American after 911. I rallied to my president and shared our grief and celebrated our heroic response. But no matter how great we have been, nothing excuses the current state of affairs, and I am ashamed of it. Sorry, it’s the way I and many others feel.

Richard, please afford us the decency of respecting our intelligence – stop trying to spin us.

September 10, 2005 @ 11:43 am | Comment

I’m an American and I know many other damn fine Americans – many of
them are soldiers that hold honor and integrity higher than you do and by
saying that you are ashamed of being an American – you are saying that
you are ashamed of everyone in this country.

Not at all. Not even close. I am ashamed of the bad things my government has done. As I said, I’d be ashamed to be Chinese during Mao’s reign. That’s not a condemnation of individual Chinese people. If I were a German, I’d be ashamed of my country in 1940. That is a sign of strength of character. Not of contempt for one’s countrymen. Don;t read so much into it, please. If I said I were ashamed of all American people, you’d have a valid argument.

And please don’t say “Screw you” to me. Thanks.

September 10, 2005 @ 11:44 am | Comment

Gordon, I am completely sincere. I did rally behind the president after 911. Where is the spin?

September 10, 2005 @ 11:47 am | Comment

I also supported the invasion of Iraq at first. As I have said, there are times when flip-flopping is a sign opf strength. My original support of the war is documented on this blog. It’s a fact, not spin, so please cut the crap.

Example:

I’ve always been conflicted, more than with any other issue, because I do not like our president but I believe the liberation of Iraq could be a key step toward transforming the Middle East into a kinder, gentler place (to use his father’s words).

Example:

Something seems to have tipped the scales, and as much as I do not like Bush & Co., I feel some sympathy for them — regime change in Iraq truly is a “noble cause,” but going about it just got a whole lot harder. If he ends up going it alone and the worst-case scenarios ensue (e.g., bloody hand-to-hand fighting, burning oil fields, chemical weapons, suicide soldiers, revitalized world-wide terrorism, etc.) he’ll be in a highly unenviable position.

Example:

How on earth does this guy know that 80 percent of 20 million surfers “show concern” for the iraq and that “most” are show sympathy “for the Iraqi people and opposition towards war.” If they were so sympatheitc with the Iraqi people, how could they be against the war? Despite how badly Bush has botched his argument, it does include liberation of one of the most oppressed people on our planet.

Example:

Saddam should be evicted, Iraq should be liberated and its ability to produce and market WMD should be halted forever. But for Powell to point to a massacre of 1988 as a factor justifying Saddam’s overthrow rings somewhat hollow, considering Bush Sr. knew all about it more than a decade ago, when our troops were there and poised to attack, and then decided that toppling Saddam wasn’t important enough to risk regional instability. Why is it worth the risk now? And wasn’t Powell himself key to the decision to let Saddam be?

Again, I’m no expert, but these are the types of questions I am hearing in Asia, and I have to admit I can understand why many view the current state of affairs with skepticism and cynicism.

Example:

I guess all these arguments are beside the point, since it’s fairly obvious we’ll be at war within three weeks. I do think the world will be a better place without him, and the people of Iraq will be grateful as were those in Afghanistan. Since we are going in, let’s just hope we know what we’re doing and know the way out.

And finally, my post critcizing CCTV for unfairly coivering the Iraq War:Example:

CCTV-9 is presenting nightly interviews with a very bright political analyst named Philip Cunningham, a Harvard-educated pundit with excellent credentials. Cunningham is articulate and insightful, and on some topics we even think alike. The only problem is that he’s virulently anti-Bush and anti-the-Iraq-War. That’s his privilege and he at least backs up his points with facts, figures and keen observations. But he goes unchallenged, and his opinions are greeted as universal truths.

Worse — the interviewer leads him on and provokes him to go even further in criticizing America, breaking every rule about the role of the interviewer. Every question is loaded and reeks of the state-sanctioned party line: “Considering the unprecedented disregard the US has shown for international law and its contempt for the rights of its citizens, wouldn’t you say….” (That’s not an exact quote, but trust me, it’s quite close.)

So that’s the war as seen in China. It is an act of evil, perpetrated by evil men who want to get their evil hands on Iraqi oil while slaughtering the country’s citizens almost for the fun of it. The Americans are bumblers and idiots at best and vile murderers at worst, and whatever the Iraqis have to say about it must be true. It is utterly surreal and the idea that people in China can take it at all seriously is insane. But they do.

So you see, Gordon, I have supported my country, not always wisely, and I did indeed support the Iraq War and I did indeed support the president whole heartedly after 911 (though I wasn’t blogging at the time). This isn’t spin, it’s documented and dated, a matter of fact. So please refrain from the insults and snide attacks.

September 10, 2005 @ 11:48 am | Comment

Well let’s see here. If I ask Google to define American,
I get the following definition:

a native or inhabitant of the United States

Hmm..yep, that’s me and that would also describe 300 million other Americans.

You could simply say that you’re ashamed of the current American government and I would respect your right to do so, but to denounce your country by saying that you are ashamed to be an American, is too far over the edge.

My Chinese language professor spent years working on a farm in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution and while she hates Mao with a passion, she will still tell you that she’s proud to be a Chinese and rightly so.

If you’re so ashamed to be an American..maybe you can switch your nationality to some other country?

September 10, 2005 @ 11:56 am | Comment

I said I’m ashamed of being an American when I see stories like this. Often I am very proud to be an American, as I explained in an earlier comment, if you were really listening. It seems this is a big red flag for you that gets your rather famous emotions soaring. Relax. This is not an unusual thing. Lots of American are ashamed of Bush and what he’s done to ouyr country. Telling people overseas you are an American is no longer pride-inducing as it was under Clinton and Roosevelt and Kennedy and Reagan. It can induce a sense of shame, because under Bush we have shown the world our ugliest face. Even Bush cheerleader Andrew Sullivan shares my shame, and I can link to his many posts on the subject if you’d like. The man is anything but a liberal.

September 10, 2005 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

Gordon, did I ever say I am ashamed of Americans? No. I said I feel ashamed of being an American when I see stories like this. You’ve created quite a tempest in a teapot!

September 10, 2005 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

Okay, this is all kind of bizarre.

Maybe the way I’d put it is this: I am ashamed of certain actions by my government, that were committed in my name. And that as an American, I feel a sense of responsibility for actions which I find morally reprehensible, that were committed in my name. That as an American, I am staggered and heartsick by the waste and lack of leadership my country has exhibited in recent years – and I’m not just thinking of things like the war and Abu Ghraib. At the moment, I’m thinking about the Administration’s lack of leadership in environmental issues, in developing alternative energy sources, in working on mitigating global warming. I’m thinking about the lack of commitment to the common good in our own country – by the continuing funneling of money away from the poor and middle class and to the very richest of it. The lack of investment in our shared infrastructure. Stuff like that.

Yes, it’s wonderful to see the way that ordinary people have responded to Katrina. And of course, government cannot and should not do everything. But it’s our government. It’s supposed to be a tool for us, for our welfare, for our common interests and for the national good. I submit that what we have now in this country on a national level fails miserably by these criteria.

So am I ashamed to be an American? I’m certainly embarrassed at times. Mostly, I’m confused. Because my country is not acting according to how I define “America.” My country isn’t living up to what I believe are its own deepest held and greatest principles.

So I guess I’m ashamed of what America is becoming. And I very much hope we can recover ourselves and stand proud again.

September 10, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

Lisa, that’s all I meant to say, and thank you for saying it better than I did. Gordon got caught up in the semantics. (It’s okay to be ashamed of the “American government” but not okay to say you feel ashaemd at times of being an “American.”) I am ashamed of being an American when my country under Bush fails to live up to American ideals. That’s all.

September 10, 2005 @ 12:45 pm | Comment

Sorry, but this conversation is infantile. Patriotism and nationalism are tools that usually make a tool out you. I realize it is a taboo subject, but after all, Wilde was right. Patriotism is an ersatz religion that allows you to feel self-righteous about your prejudices.

September 10, 2005 @ 2:20 pm | Comment

My friend Gordon gets very hung up on “the patriotism thing.” Yeah, I love my country (with a good deal of healthy skpeticism), but I am extremely wary of jingoism and the “my country right or wrong” mindset. My country screws up on a massive scale and smiles at torture and murder, and you’re damend right I’m ashamed as hell. If only more Chinese had been ashamed of Mao’s insanities and done more to stop him. Being ashamed of your country can be quite healthy.

September 10, 2005 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

You’re out, AC. No one can come onto this site and say I sided with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

September 10, 2005 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Oh good. AC was a pain.

September 10, 2005 @ 8:38 pm | Comment

He was a pain, but I wouldn’t have banned him if he hadn’t crossed the line big time. I will not be told I am a supporter of Osama Bin Laden. That is slander.

September 10, 2005 @ 8:42 pm | Comment

Gordon, who put the American President up there?

I’m not saying that Americans should be ashamed of being american, (they have the right to feel any way they want, and richard has chosen to state his stand), but given that the government was elected by the people through a totally democratic process, surely Americans and not just their government are partly responsible for atrocities committed.

September 11, 2005 @ 1:11 am | Comment

Hah, Richard, you didn’t have to have the “women’s place” debate with him (AC). Oh lord. That was SO aggravating. And kind of close to slander (of me!). But I didn’t feel comfortable banning him at that point. This just proves he is as big a jerk as I thought he was.

September 11, 2005 @ 2:36 am | Comment

Gordon wrote:

I’m not saying that shit doesn’t go wrong with our government and within our soldiers ranks, but unlike other countries they are held accountable.

From the article:

The second soldier implicated has just been acquitted. The bottom line in the AP story is the following: “No one has been charged with the detainee’s death

September 11, 2005 @ 7:31 am | Comment

I’m with hmmmm.

What was Vonnegut’s word for an imaginary group of people? . . . granfalloon?

It seems very childish to me, all this patriotism stuff. People seem to need it, however, like religion, to give themselves a sense of meaning and purpose. The nation-state is a concept that long ago became counterproductive, but it still hangs on long past the time when it may have had some usefulness. May have.

We may as well argue about who has cooler shoes, as argue about who has the ‘best country’ or who loves his country the most.

Gordon, buddy, time to re-think.

September 11, 2005 @ 11:28 am | Comment

Other Lisa ! Richard!

Banning another person from posting a message on this web site simply because you can’t win a debate?

Just tells ya, censorship is not limited to China.

September 11, 2005 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

DC, lots of people disagree with me, and I don’t delete. But if you call me a sympathizer with Al Qaeda or the Nazis, you’re out — fast. That has notrhing to do with censorship, but with human decency. I won;t tolerate deranged personal attacks in here. If you look up the thread, you’ll see I disdagree tremendously with Gordon. Yet I have never deleted one of his comments. You have to work hard and strive for getting your comment deleted here, either by personally attacking or by trolling (using multiple IDs and needling people into fights). But that’s very rare.

September 11, 2005 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

Multiple IDs, as far as I’m concerned, are grounds for banning – I don’t mean the occasional joke now and again, but people who hide behind a bunch of identities – sorry, that’s low. When I was guest-administering, I got attacked by what I thought was a lot of people – turns out that at least a dozen of them were at most two guys – maybe only one. Using separate IDs to exaggerate the strength of your argument is cowardly.

September 12, 2005 @ 12:56 am | Comment

And I want to point out that it is not OK for someone to claim that he/she is faking different persona to test reaction for internet research purposes. All respectable universities and research institutes worldwide have guidelines for research ethics. If anyone want to set up an experiment using TPD as a subject, he/she will have to write to Richard to ask for permission. Without that, Richard will have a right to take him/he to task by reporting this to the respective institute.

September 12, 2005 @ 3:16 am | Comment

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