Dear America, Could We Be the Bad Guys?


I wonder about the children of Nazis.

Because children tend to believe what their parents tell them, did they believe their parents were fighting for right? Eliminating some sort of criminal element, imminent threat?

Or did they, perhaps, get the nagging feeling that something was wrong? Did they ever wonder if maybe their parents were the bad guys?

Too frequently I hear people who have traveled very little or not at all say that America is the best country in the world. Or everywhere else is dangerous. Or we are the only ones with freedom.

And I wonder if we’re those children.

The children of Nazis, parroting back what daddy taught us. Singing we’re the best, we’re the best, we’re the best, while the government spies on its own people and detains foreigners without proof of their guilt.

While our healthcare system gets more and more expensive and corporations continue to serve us chemicals and pesticides and poisons that are illegal in other parts of the world.

We’ve been taught to fear Muslims, to think freedom of religion means that corporations can deny women healthcare that covers birth control, to believe the answer to our unhappiness is a traditional path and a pile of possessions.

We even vote in favor of not labeling GMOs in our food, of giving people less choices. Less freedom, as it were. Which makes our land-of-the-free mantra rather ridiculous. More like land of the free corporations and the people they slowly poison.

Unsurprisingly,  we’re all a little depressed.

When you start to travel the world, a different perspective on America emerges. And it isn’t the land of the free.

In Morocco, they told me Bush should be charged with war crimes and face the firing squad. The conversation was heated and I stayed out of it. It’s the only time I remember feeling afraid during a family dinner abroad.

Nelson Mandela, while somewhat less brutal about it, agreed with this internationally common assessment, saying “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.”

And so I wonder about the children of the Nazis…

As I distance myself from America both geographically and politically.

As I check the “socialist” box when asked about my political leanings in a survey.

As I delight every time someone mistakes me for European.

As I wonder what we can do to become the Land of the Free. For real this time.