Americans: The Truest Believers by Yiannis Petrohilos

Americans: The Truest Believers


by Ioannis Petrohilos, Spring 2002

            Since the events of September 11 people all over the world have become much more informed. They have learned new words and concepts like Jihad, Martyrdom, Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and Islamic Fundamentalism.

            Debates have been going on all over the United States to answer questions like: “Why did they do this to us?” or “What did we ever do to them? We don’t even know where Afghanistan is.” There has also been a lot of talk to determine what it is that makes people like Mohammed Atta defy their own lives in order to kill American citizens. These discussions never go deeper than the fact that these people are brainwashed fanatics who have been conditioned to kill whoever their leaders indicate. They are called the “True believers” of a cause that aims to destroy anyone who isn’t a Muslim. The American government is desperately trying to persuade its citizens that the country is at war with terrorism, at war with those who are jealous of the “American way of life” and the freedom this country provides. Islamic nations are being portrayed as oppressive regimes that tyrannize their people and keep them ignorant as sheep so that they can control them. The worst thing about all this is that Americans buy it!

            In this paper I will show that United States citizens are the “Truest believers of them all.” Their country currently is the biggest oppressor, nationally and internationally, and yet Americans are so brainwashed and ignorant that they believe their country is the protector of Democracy and the champion of freedom. I will not try to prove that the hijackers of September 11 were justified in killing innocent people. Instead I want to show that their deeds symbolize a reaction to the United States imperialistic foreign policy of the last decades. My aim is to make people think that instead of oversimplifying everything and calling them cowards maybe they should consider the despair of a person who is willing to give his own life I order to make a statement. In doing so I will talk about how the United States oppress people within America and all over the world.

            In 1887 the Bureau of Indian Affairs was set up to manage the income of Native American’s land because they were found incompetent to manage it themselves. A lot of these people owned land that was on oil wells which should have generated great profits for them. Instead there are examples of people whose land sits on several oil wells and only get $1000 per year. When in 1996 representatives of the Native Americans tried to complain about the situation they were brushed aside, so they filled a lawsuit. The suit is a class action that represents almost half a million Indians and has two basic demands: The first one is that the trust system be made transparent and to operate in accordance to generally accepted banking principles. The second demand is that the money lost over the trusts 110 year life be accounted for and that Native Americans be compensated. The first trial revealed that throughout the century-long life of the trust, Native Americans were deprived of an estimate of $100 billion. Also, it was discovered that the trust was full of holes and discrepancies which has made it almost impossible up to today to make it operate in a transparent fashion. Six years have passed since the first lawsuit was filled and the “land of opportunities” has yet to grant Native Americans what is rightfully theirs. However, Indians are not the only minority that is being mistreated by the “benevolent” government of the United States.

            America was built on exploiting slaves from the African countries. From 1619 to 1865 over 4 million people were brought to the United States under the harshest conditions and treated like animals, working from dusk till dawn without getting paid. There was no job blacks didn’t do, from digging canals, to building railroads, to picking cotton. It was the free labor that blacks provided that allowed American products to be sold in much lower prices than the equivalent from European countries that paid workers. Slavery was abolished in 1865 and the post Civil War legislation stated that former slave families should get 40 acres and mules to start their lives over. However this promise was never fulfilled, in fact for the next 100 years very severe segregation rules made sure that blacks were kept as low as possible in the social spectrum. They were not allowed to eat in the same restaurants, use the same bathrooms or even go to the same schools with whites. Africans were the backbone of American economy but they were not even allowed to vote, and should they ever get out of line, they knew that they would be lynched by the locals who made an example of anyone who disobeyed them.     

            It was not until the 50’s that some change started to take place. It was the civil rights movement and the will of some charismatic people to die in just to make a statement. Americans also viewed them as “True Believers” of a lost cause at the time, but as history has shown their cause was justified and now the whole of the United States celebrates the Black History month and mourns the day of Martin Luther Kings assassination. Although today things are much better for African Americans and they are given much more opportunities to succeed the injustices of the past remain. This is why some of the most influential black lawyers of the United States are expected to file a lawsuit against the people of the United States into a federal courthouse this fall. It is estimated that African Americans will request that the United States pay a reparation fee of around $4 trillion to the descendents of slaves. The main argument is that the disproportionate number of African Americans who are economically depressed, uneducated, or in jail is due to the cultural trauma of slavery. Although it is more than fair that blacks be compensated for their hardships, the example of the Native Americans tells me that it is highly unlikely that this case will be resolved in the immediate future.

            Minorities are not alone in being oppressed in the “land of freedom.” America is one of the countries that still executes the death penalty. Research has revealed that at least twenty people have been wrongfully executed. Additionally, the release of Ray Milton Krone made him the 100th innocent victim to be released since 1973. Krone spent ten years in prison and the only reason he is alive today is because Arizona does not execute its death row inmates at the same pace that Texas does. Most Americans still believe that the death penalty should be kept in effect, but after cases like that of Ray Milton Krone that have alerted a small-but increasing- number of citizens who are requesting reforms to be made and DNA tests be made mandatory, as well as appointing competent lawyers. On the other hand though, a lot of politicians want to persuade their constituents that their tough on crime, so talk of abolishing the death sentence are still deemed as utopian.

            I find it truly amazing that innocent Americans are killed by their government every year and the people of this country lethargically remain glued in front of their television sets doing nothing about it. Even the remote possibility that one innocent person may have been killed by mistake is terrifying. Imagine knowing for a fact that innocent people have been executed and doing nothing about. In my mind there is no greater sin than that.

            The United States is the empire of our times, and like all empires it does anything to remain that way. Technology has given the United States the opportunity to keep a watchful eye all over the world, doing anything it can to defend its interests. This means that a great part of the world- in some way or another- is oppressed by the “land of the brave and home of the free.” Due to a lack of space I can not illustrate all the ways in which America keeps other countries down. Therefore I will present some characteristic examples of my argument.

            America is the most dangerous country in the world for two main reasons. The first one is that it has nuclear weapons and the second is that it is the only country who has dared to use them-and proud of it-. On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb at Hiroshima, a Japanese city. The result was the death of 60,000  to 70,000 civilians and the destruction of most of the cities infrastructure. Three days later a second bomb was released over Nagasaki, another Japanese city. The result was equally destructive, 40,000 dead and one third of the cities buildings destroyed.

            However, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) of1972 put strict limitations on research, development and deployment of nuclear weapons. The U.S. arsenal had reached its prime in 1967 when it had 32,500 warheads. Since the ABM treaty the number has been reduced to approximately 8700. But President Bush is now trying to break free of the limitations the treaty entails and start the creation of a National Missile Defence to protect the country from evildoers who might try to use such a weapon against the United States.

            I think that such an act will only make our world an even more dangerous place than it already is. The only way we can get rid of the fear of a nuclear bomb is by getting rid of nuclear weapons. If research and development of nuclear weapons is resumed full blast there is no doubt in my mind that at some point they will be used. Characteristic is what Harry Truman responded when he was asked whether he was going to use the A-bomb or not, he said that every weapon that had been built up to that point was used, so the atomic bomb would have the same fortune. Furthermore when Albert Einstein was asked how the third World War would be fought, he replied that he did not know, but he knew that the fourth World War would be fought with sticks and stones. Therefore, I think that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty must stay in effect, and the nuclear weapons should continue to be disarmed until there are no more left.

            The nuclear threat is not the only way the United States have of punishing their opponents. There are other ways which are extremely efficient in dismantling whole countries. The most characteristic example is Iraq and the economic sanctions imposed in 1990. These measures have caused 1, 5 million people to die of malnutrition and lack of medicine. However since 1995 the oil-for-food program has allowed Iraq to export $2 billion worth of oil for food and medicine. But only $1, 3 million can be spent for this cause since $700 million have to be given to a compensation fund and toward U.N. expenses. Research made by the U.N. indicated that $2, 1 billion needs to be spent on food and medicine every six months so that conditions will not continue to deteriorate.

            The sanctions were imposed in a temporary fashion until Iraq dismantles its chemical weapons arsenal. By 1995 Iraq-with the help of U.S. weapons inspectors- had destroyed 90%-95% but still the sanctions were not lifted. What the United States government does not tell the world is that these weapons were created with the help of American money. Iraq was given $4 billion of agricultural loans knowing that they would use them to produce chemical weapons. So, the sanctions remain in order for the United States to continue exploiting Iraqi oil. Currently the Americans use 60%-80% of Iraqi oil, if the sanctions are lifted and the Iraqi government becomes less desperate to sell its oil just to survive, they might decide not to sell to the United States. So, the sanctions are kept in existence to keep Iraq depended on American money.

            The attack on the United States on September 11 was a very sad event for the same reason that it is tragic that 1, 5 million Iraqi people have died since 1990, because innocent people pay for their governments sins. It is very important to examine how these terrorists managed to achieve such expertise and military knowledge that they were able to pull off their almost impossible mission. Who financed them? Where did they get their military training? Where did they learn how to fly the planes? The United States! Osama Bin Laden was trained and financed by the CIA when he was their “friend”, fighting against the Russians. The CIA did such a good job with him that the former Soviets were forced to retrieve off Afghanistan. Furthermore, all the hijackers learned to fly in American schools who, as long as they can pay, will even train dogs to fly airplanes. Zacarias Moussaoui was accepted to Pan Am flying school even though they knew that he had not attained a license for single engine airplanes after 57 hours of flying; the average student needs 20-22 hours to get his license. Mr. Moussaoui had cash though, so he was not denied entrance to the school. It was only a matter of time before some of these deals backfired. The results are now known to everyone, 4470 dead on September 11, and approximately 15,000 dead in Afghanistan in the months that followed.

            All this catastrophe does not seem to put some sense into the American governments head and alliances with dangerous alliances are formed all over the world. The Bush administration is determined to pay $98 million to equip the Colombian government in its never ending battle against drugs. The Colombian government lives off drugs though. Giving them money and guns will never end the problem. The only solution is that American people stop buying those drugs. The United States is the largest market for Colombian drugs. Unless Americans are educated of the dangers of drugs they will continue to fund Colombia in two ways; Through giving them money to get rid of drugs and through buying their drugs.

            Another frightening alliance that America has recently been involved in involves Uzbekistan. According to the State Department, Uzbekistan is a totalitarian state with one of the worst human rights records in the world. However the U.S. government promised them $160 million in exchange for letting them use Uzbek bases last fall for the U.S.’s Afghan operation. Such negotiations have only contributed in legitimizing the human right atrocities. Human Rights Watch estimates that about 7000 people are detained in Uzbekistan prison with false or no evidence at all. However the American government, in November 2001 expressed its gratitude to the Uzbekistan government for their efforts to fight terrorism.          

            These are only a few examples of how America daily oppresses people and countries nationally and globally. American citizens through still refer to their country as being the land of freedom, they continue to live in an illusion of pseudo freedom. Just because they can get unlimited call minutes for just $19.95 or because they can choose between eating Chinese, Mexican, or Greek food they think they are free. The truth is that they live in an iron cage without realizing it. Under aged children in Third World countries are worked to death and paid $1 a week to produce NIKE shoes, and Americans sit in front of the television eating pop corn, enjoying “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and getting fatter by the minute. Only if they start watching from a critical perspective what goes on in the world will they realize that America is like a virus that kills anything in its path to expansion and global domination. In order for this greed to end it must start from inside. Americans need to wake up and realize that while they hundreds of channels on their television, other children do not even have electricity. The way I see it American people have two choices. The first choice is that they can continue to live in ignorance, allow the Anti American sentiment to grow by the day and watch it explode in their face in the near future. Their second choice lies in informing themselves about the injustices that take place by their government, and join the rest of the world in protesting. Only by speaking up will change come, but it has to start from within.


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