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Howard Zinn: Put Away the Flags

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    Put Away the Flags by Howard Zinn The Progressive Magazine http://groups.yahoo.com/group/libertyunderground/ On this July 4, we would do well to renounce
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2007
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      Put Away the Flags
      by Howard Zinn
      The Progressive Magazine

      On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its
      symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its
      insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

      Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so
      fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time,
      along with racism, along with religious hatred?

      These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from
      childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for
      those out of power.

      National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking
      both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland,
      Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours — huge,
      possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction — what might have
      been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to
      others and to ourselves.

      Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from
      others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into
      other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

      That self-deception started early.

      When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in
      Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war
      with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved
      by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans
      cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give
      thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of
      the Earth for thy possession."

      When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women
      and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was
      supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell
      that day."

      On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our
      "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence."
      After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We
      believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

      It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to

      We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the
      Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize
      and Christianize" the Filipino people.

      As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least
      600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our
      secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from
      all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is
      the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of
      peace and happiness."

      We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps
      against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And
      some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

      Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

      How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if
      they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for
      "liberty," for "democracy"?

      One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of
      proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the
      justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The
      killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for
      killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be
      blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two
      countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004
      that God speaks through him.

      We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally
      superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

      We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one

      Howard Zinn, a World War II bombardier, is the author of the
      best-selling "A People's History of the United States" (Perennial
      Classics, 2003, latest edition). This piece was distributed by the
      Progressive Media Project.



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