next time you're feeling "free," see how far you can walk without
being legally compelled to stop to let cars drive past. The light
turns red and, voila, you are no longer free to continue walking
because in America, the car culture rules. This essentially invisible
totalitarian salvo was recently complicated when a big white SUV crept
up into the crosswalk, making it virtually hopeless for yours truly to
cross the damn street even when the light changed to green. I fixed my
gaze on the mechanized monster before me and immediately saw all that
is wrong with America.
No, I'm not just talking about how the
gas guzzling properties of that SUV directly result in military
interventions, human rights violations, global poverty, rampant war
crimes, and everything else on that lurid laundry list. This is not
just another screed about the myriad highways that crisscross America,
draining tax dollars, shattering communities, and devastating
eco-systems. No, this is all about dissidents finally blaming everyone
who deserves blame (including ourselves).
The neatly dressed man in the passenger seat -- "Dad" -- was talking
loudly on a cell phone. Global demand for columbite-tantalite (a.k.a.
"coltan"), a common cell phone component, is fueling war and
environmental destruction in the Democratic Republic of Congo . . .
but leftists aren't supposed to acknowledge their complicity. We don't
reproach everyday Americans for their callous indifference because,
well . . . .it's all Bush's fault, right?
The woman driving this death machine --"Mom" -- sported diamond
earrings. Although we're aware how the diamond trade exploits both
humans and the landscape, Mom's given a free pass based solely on her
ignorance. It's Bush's fault.
Both Mom and Dad proudly call themselves "liberal" and voted for Kerry
in 2004. Their participation in the two-party farce and their
acceptance of lesser evilism, however, are not seen as the problem by
those in the know. It's all Bush's fault.
In the backseat of that SUV sat a teenage boy wearing Nike sneakers, a
Gap shirt, and eating a Big Mac. I'm not supposed to point the
accusing finger of blame at his family's willingness to financially
support sweatshop labor and factory farming because it's Bush's
Next to Big Mac boy was his older sister, drinking Coke (sorry India
and Colombia) and putting on nail polish (too bad for the animals it
was tested on). This girl's compliance is not the problem. She's
merely a product of the times. Besides, it's all Bush's fault.
The light that temporarily halted this SUV went green and Mom put the
pedal to the metal. As she drove away, I saw a bumper sticker that
reads: "Our son is a U.S. Marine." Ah, here we have the Holy Grail of
free passes. Condemn the war but support the troops, we're told, and
the SUV owner's progeny only joined for the educational opportunities.
It's not his fault. Leave him alone. He's only following orders. He
had no choice. He has no culpability. It's Bush's fault that poor
sonny boy is stuck in Iraq.
Reality check: The excuse of ignorance is not valid when graphic
images are available within minutes. It's not lack of knowledge; it's
denial . . . or perhaps even acquiescence. There are no innocent
bystanders when our money and/or rhetoric support the world's most
powerful military and the corporate status quo. But if we just keep
telling ourselves it's all Bush's fault, we can sleep better -- our
innocence wrapped around us like a big white SUV.
is the author of several books, most recently 50
American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation
Books). He can be found on the Web at:
Other Recent Articles and Poems by Mickey Z.
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Defense of Barry Bonds
Support Our Troops (Inform Them)
should always remember who makes the rules”: Derrick Jensen Sees the
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White Washing of Muhammad Ali™
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Interview with John “Indio” Washington
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* GI Joe
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Abuse: Nothing New Going on Here
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the “Labor” in Labor Day: Remembering the Lowell Mill Girls
Keller: Not Blind to War Crimes
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Politics and the Playing Field: An Interview with David Zirin
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