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Daniel Patrick Welch: No One Here Gets Out Alive

No One Here Gets Out Alive:

Americans' refusal to look in the mirror presages our own demise
by Daniel Patrick Welch - translators please visit website to volunteer

I often have the dubious pleasure of listening smug liberals whining about their "discomfort" with what they referred to as "Arab culture." There is an amazing phenomenon among Americans, so convinced of our own superiority, that we can be simultaneously ignorant about the world we dominate and yet utterly uninterested in our own history, culture, and society. The shit is about to hit the fan, folks--no more free passes for liberals and so- called "progressives" who prefer either to criticize foreign cultures or confine their domestic ire to the cabal in the White House.

Notwithstanding the innumerable war crimes committed by the neocon thugs, their little enterprise would have come to nothing without the full complicity, not to mention head start, of their "friends across the aisle," the other half of the American War Party. Nor would this glorious and historic moment in US history have been possible without decades of training, of culling the working class into the "volunteer" armed forces, militarizing every nook and cranny of society from children's fashion and toys to the Pentagon-enhanced budgets of all our major universities. Stroll through the "boys" aisle of any local toy store, strewn with plastic tanks and bombers, complete with removable missiles. Pick up a pink camouflage shirt, headband, bookbag, or any of the other items that serve to instill in our children the notion that our ubiquitous warriors are cool and fashionable. We are a culture on the warpath, though culture is a term to be used loosely.

Long despised around the globe for our lack of culture, it is perhaps unremarkable that we facilitated the looting of some of the most ancient cultural treasures in human civilization in Iraq, or aided and abetted the disintegration by air war of another ancient Mediterranean culture in Lebanon. Through it all, liberals will tsk and cluck about how Arabs treat their women, prevented, perhaps, by their "discomfort" from stopping the impending holocaust against Iran. Dithering seems to be a favorite distraction for the US middle class (don't say bourgeoisie or you're a communist), who hold the wealth and power necessary to force change in US policy. "Usted no es nada", Victor Jara once chided the Chilean middle class. "No es chicha ni limonada." At the cusp of history, they could have acted to prevent Pinochet's murderous reign. But they were too comfortable, too scared, too dithering.

The Arabs about whom we are talking are actually Persian, but such distinctions mean little when they are about other people. How many Muslim women have been murdered by US and Israeli bombs and bullets? How many women and their children starved and kept in murderous poverty by US-backed policies at the World Bank and the IMF? No matter: Americans are as blind to these numbers as we are to the dearth and death of culture all around us. Our national gluttony is ruinous to our own lives, to our natural resources, and even to the planet itself. We condone and try to thrive in a culture that has raised blaming the victim to a sophisticated social science, from those who managed to escape our founding genocide to the vestiges of our imported slave population. US treatment of immigrants, of workers, of minorities, of children, is by regular measure among the worst in the "civilized" world we like to crow about representing.

And when the uranium dust from bombs over Iran wafts across south Asia, will liberals bemoan the preventable deaths of Muslim women, Hindu women, and their children, whose air, water and bodies will be poisoned for a century? This war is already started: any idiot can see it in the press frenzy now being forced down American throats. But we are experts in looking for blame elsewhere. Congressional "leaders' pontificate about Iraq, four years behind the curve: the war on Iran started when staged footage of Saddam's falling statue capped the war porn coverage of Iraq's "liberation" by an embedded press.

In fact, war porn is about all that is on the menu in a culture where news outlets paste in identical photos of "suspected nuclear facilities" in Iran and North Korea. What difference does it make, when what passes for journalism is almost exclusively filler to take up the space between the ads.

And war pimps from both "sides of the aisle" are happy to oblige, mouthing empty rhetoric that matches the press in its fury to say nothing quickly. When the ruling party can't manage to get a debate on a nonbinding resolution, it's because they aren't trying--and worse, they don't want to. But try they had better: the BBC recently ran a story predicting that members of the US Congress, should the Americans actually go ahead and attack Iran, would be subject to arrest and detention should they venture into Western European capitals.

Even Phony Tony Blair is announcing plans for a withdrawal from Iraq. Could it be that the Brits are eager to avoid being caught up in the coming slaughter? There will be no escape from this Armageddon: Democrats are already up to their elbows in blood. And nobody gets a pass this time. Americans will have to give up the fantasy of ourselves as a noble nation, the ones wearing the white hats. But it is precisely this myth that keeps the bubble intact: if we were to face Pogo's enemy in the mirror, the whole enterprise would burst. Without a crusade and a self-important destiny, our quest for world domination would seem more on a par with Genghis Khan than we would like.

Binyamin Netanyahoo, speaking of war pimps, and other wackos scream the truly perverse mantra that it is 1938, and Iran is the Third Reich, a historical lie that even Condi couldn't swallow. This should be a sign of how crazy the analogy is, not any measure of clarity on Rice's part. But the loyal opposition still clings to the white hat theory so strongly that it pulls the hat clear down over our eyes. Only by removing the hat can we begin to see that the analogy is not only wrong but backwards: it is we (through our Israeli "allies") who destroyed Lebanon while the world sat by and did next to nothing. The world watches the plight of the Palestinian people, being slowly wiped off the map; watches us destroy Iraq; and now, destroy Iran? Look in Pogo's mirror and say which culture makes you "uncomfortable."


© 2007 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School Translations of articles are available in over two dozen languages. Links to the website are appreciated at

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