Steven Hass: 'You're Too Smart To Be An American'
"You're Too Smart To Be An American - Americans Are So Naive"
By Steven Hass
I live and work in a city that hosts a major U.S. university. The demographics of all major universities being equal, this city is temporarily home to students and faculty from many different countries. We also enjoy a commercial downtown atmosphere which is dotted with international flavor. I consider that to be exciting, interesting, and informative.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to speak casually with the owner of a local custom t-shirt store, a Pakistani gentleman who has lived and worked in this city for years. Until yesterday, I knew him only as "the guy who runs the t-shirt store". He is predictable for the cheerful greeting he always gives in passing, but I had no idea how deeply this man's intelligence ran.
We were enjoying a very general chat until a brief and understated political comment by me transformed our entire conversation. This man, without emotion, simply stated what so many Americans have missed: the truth about the Bush administration's foreign policy. In muted tones, this Pakistani "guy who runs the t-shirt store" spoke more truth in fewer words than anyone I have ever spoken to.
Unlike many Americans, he knows that 9-11 was not accomplished by nineteen third-world "terrorists" with box cutters. He knows that it was planned long before 9-11, and not entirely from outside the U.S. He knows that it was merely an excuse to occupy the Middle East and take control of the region and its resources. He knows that U.S. foreign policy revolves around Israel, the only Middle Eastern country allowed by the U.S. to have a nuclear weapons arsenal while insisting that all others disarm. He knows that Afghanistan is governed by a U.S. puppet regime. He also knows how meaningless any new "democratic" regime in Iraq really is. He knows how ridiculous the pre-war lies were regarding Iraq's supposed weapons stockpiles, and the laughable notion of Iraq having been a threat to the U.S. He knows how naive Americans are, especially when he sees them waving their flags for anything Bush tells them to believe, choosing not to research a single thing for themselves.
We spoke of so many things in such a short amount of time, it was incredible. This man was informed enough to be able to laugh at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the same old group of people who dribble whatever will get the typical American to wave a flag and forfeit their own critical thinking skills. It spoke volumes that I was having this conversation not with an American, but with a Pakistani.
I was embarrassed of too many of my fellow Americans, in light of the insight and intelligence shown to me by a t-shirt store owner from Pakistan. Bush and his cabal lied about Iraq, lied about WMDs, lied about 9-11, lied about almost everything regarding anything, and Americans fell for it, and continue to fall for it. Yes, that is embarrassing. No, I will not move to another country because of the embarrassment.
When a Pakistani store owner in my city knows more about U.S. foreign policy than Americans do, that's not a sign for me to move somewhere else and watch from a distance as America slowly drowns in a pool of blissful ignorance. What it does tell me is that I should keep talking, keep telling the truth, and hope that maybe an American might finally hear it. The rest of the world laughs as Americans smile and wave their flags, ignorant of reality and satisfied with a catchy soundbite or new slogan. Despite our national anthem, we're no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our own government took away the "free", and our endless bloodbath abroad is devoid of "brave".
As I left, the Pakistani store owner smiled, waved, and said, "You're too smart to be an American - Americans are so naive". The truth is that he is too smart to be a t-shirt store owner, but I sure am glad he's here.