Until my mid-teens I bought everything America was selling. I swallowed brand USA with the naivete and fervor of a Trump University sucker.
I watched the westerns with chisel-jawed heroes like Randolph Scott and John Wayne fighting bad guys and blood-thirsty Indians. I idolized actor Audie Murphy who overcame his thespian shortcomings because audiences knew the decorated World War II veteran had the real life chops to play heroes.
Back before the Me Too Movement, I laughed as Bob Hope delivered scantily clad show girls and double entendres to American service men protecting the world from communists in lonely far away outposts.
I worshiped Davie Crockett, Daniel Boone, Colonel Travis, Kit Carson. Resourceful men of integrity and true grit.
I looked up to your Presidents. I particularly liked Kennedy, the good Catholic family man whose philandering went unreported, when he faced down the tyrant Khrushchev. In my youthful mind U.S. Presidents represented a country with principles, a country that stood up to tyranny, no matter the cost, to keep us all safe.
The truth is, I wanted to be an American, not a polite Canadian with second rate celebrities, earnest heroes and boring politicians.
Then I grew up. Or at least expanded intellectually.
The illusion of America the Great, did not shatter immediately, smashed upon a sharp rock of reality. It peeled away, layer by layer, as historical truths gleaned from a lifetime of reading and travel began to sink in.
In this era of alternate facts and truth isn’t truth, here are a few myth shattering irrefutable facts easily verified on Google:
- The Constitution Americans so revere was formulated by bigoted white men who viewed the concept of liberty through the toilet paper tube view of race. The liberty they envisioned did not include black people who slaved on their plantations, yellow people who died at back breaking labour for meager pay or red people whose lands were usurped in a cultural genocide that would eventually be given the highfalutin name of Manifest Destiny.
- The United States is not a true democracy in which the majority rules. Money is the determining factor in getting elected. Lots of money. Even then the Presidential candidate who gets the most votes doesn’t always win, as evidenced by two of the last three Presidents. The Electoral College system was created to appease slave states. It is so complicated and antiquated most Americans could not tell you how it works, or why. The Senate is a smoke and mirrors democratic institution: in choosing a Supreme Court Justice who will determine the country’s direction for decades, a representative from Wyoming who might represent a couple hundred thousand voters carries the exact same weight as a Senator from California who represents 20 million constituents.
- The U.S. is not a country in which no man is above the law. As if he were a Medieval monarch, the President retains the absolute power to pardon anyone of any crime, be it friend, family member or accomplice. It is an open question among constitutional scholars whether a President can pardon himself. Enough said.
- The United States is not the land of the free. In America, incarcerating its own people is big business. The U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any country in the world. It’s not even close.
- The Supreme Court is not an impartial body above politics. This is a claim stunning in its brazenness, given the disgraceful nominating process the world just witnessed. Justices are appointed by the politicians in charge on the basis of their ideology. Period.
- The U.S. is not the greatest country in the world, a place where all the rest of us want to live. It is a country that spends more on its military than the next five countries combined while its infrastructure crumbles and Americans die because they can’t afford health care. Once great cities like Detroit have been reduced to Third World dereliction. Chicago is a war zone. No one wants to move to Flint and drink toxic water or go to Puerto Rico to sit in the dark. It is a scary country whose heavily armed citizens are killing each other in nightclubs and movie theatres, restaurants and parks, churches and schools in record shattering numbers. The majority of the non-desperate world citizens prefer to live in stable countries and many no longer want to visit the States.
- The U.S. has never been the shining city on the hill, a beacon of integrity for all the world to see. It is a country that has always put its own interests first regardless of morality. It has pillaged the world’s resources, never putting a dollar into a Third World country without the expectation of getting two out. The feigned indignation expressed by Lindsay Graham at the Saudis for killing a journalist, the same red-faced sputterings he unleashed at the “non-political” Kavanaugh hearings, would make for great satire if the subject matter wasn’t so horrifying. As Graham well knows, the U.S. has a long sordid history of propping up murderous tyrants, from Anastasia Somoza in Nicaragua to the Shah of Iran, from Saddam Hussein to Manual Noriega in Panama, until the latter’s blatant drug dealing became too public. America threw in with corrupt Vietnamese generals while dropping bombs, napalm and Agent Orange on people fighting for the right to determine their own country’s fate. All in the name of their own national interests. Meanwhile Graham’s new BFF is cozying up to the current generation of tyrants, professing love for the North Korean thug who had his half-brother killed in a Singapore airport and returned the broken body of a barely alive U.S. student who pilfered a poster. The hypocritical Graham will no doubt eventually fall in line with U.S. leaders who are blatantly providing a cover story for a repressive tyrant who murdered a U.S.-based journalist then cut up his body.
- Perhaps the greatest myth of all is inherent in the country’s name. The United States of America is anything but united. The plain-spoken, politically incorrect fact that nobody on network or cable television wants to say out loud is that the U.S. comprises a society in which a significant portion of its populace has deplorable values. There can be no other explanation for Donald Trump, who is a symptom not the cause of the country’s spiritual sickness. Hillary had it right. Trump supporters are deplorable. They laugh uproariously when their Dear Leader mocks a disabled person or sexual assault victim. They chant “Lock her up!” when he chastises a political opponent and then nod reverently when he tells them accused sexual predators are innocent until proven guilty. Trump supporters are the “very fine people” who marched with tiki torches and killed a woman in Charlottesville. They profess their love of Jesus and family values while supporting a man who cheats on his wife with porn stars, lies pathologically and admits to grabbing women by their private parts, a guy who bullies the weak but barely stops short of oral sex for strongmen like Putin. They cluck when he takes babies and young children from their mother’s arms but take secret comfort in the fact desperate foreigners will soon have to climb over a 30-foot wall to get into the country. They give fealty to a man who drapes himself in the flag but avoided military service when his country called. They say America First but support a tax cheat who always put himself before his country. Deplorable is as deplorable does.