Sunday, March 30, 2008

God Damn America!

I have to admit to a bit of shock over the response to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, especially among folks who consider themselves liberal or progressive. It is no shock that Faux News and the other cogs in the rightwing media machine went nuts. After all, these are the same people who cannot seem to separate scientific fact from religious fiction (yeah, I'm talking about evolution).

"God Damn America" does elicit a visceral response from many (most?) listeners. But after that initial shock, shouldn't the rational brain take over and think through the implications of what Pastor Wright is saying. What is it about American exceptionalism that makes us believe that we alone will be blessed by god? Especially given our history.

Need I recount? We stole land from the indigenous people. We brought human beings to this land in shackles as slaves. We kept the institution of slavery well into our history. And, after we formally ended slavery we created a de jure and de facto separate society where former slaves did not have the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Women were not allowed to vote until our country was over 100 years old. And the list goes on.

Today we live in a country of obscene wealth that is concentrated in the hands of the few. And as the rich get ever more rich, the poor in our country suffer. We have nearly 13 million children living in poverty. About 3.5 million people, including 1.35 million children, experience homelessness each year. Our public education system is in ruin and continues to lag behind other industrialized countries. Oh, and about 47 million people lack health insurance.

And yet you tell me that god blesses America? What for? For our good deeds in the world community? Point to one post WWII success story for American foreign policy. Just one. We sat idly by during the genocide in Rwanda and the ecocide in Nigeria. Perhaps if the denizens of Africa had a paler hue to their skin or more natural resources America could begin to care. But the sad reality is that America cares only about itself, by and large. We are a selfish country. Not only in our relations with the rest of the world community, but within our own society.

I'm sorry, but if this is a country worth blessing then I would hate to live in a country that god would damn.

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