- America is a nation of losers. It's the best thing about
us. We're the dregs, what the rest of the world barfed up and threw on
- John Kennedy said we are "a nation of immigrants."
That's the sanitized phrase. We are, in fact, a nation of refugees, who,
despite the bastards in white sheets and the know-nothings in Congress,
have held open the Golden Door to a dark planet. We are not imperialists
and that's why Bush lies and Cheney lies and, yes, the Clintons lied.
- Winston Churchill didn't lie to the Brits about their
empire: He said, These lands belong to the Crown, we own'm and we'll squeeze
the value from them. "Imperialism," as Karl Marx complained,
was a good word in Britain, a word that got you elected in Europe until
- Ignore the fey university hideouts of Europe. Go to Vietnam
or to Brazil or to Morocco or to Tibet and you'll find the same thing:
America's music, America's freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom
of spirit and the heartfelt friendship of Americans for others have made
the USA truly "the light unto the nations." Americans are not
liked worldwide, but loved-sometimes I find that weird, but it's true-and
that drives Osama to bombs and madness.
- We are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to
the cause that all men and women are created equal. It's silly and precious
to point out that these ideals have been mangled, abused, ignored and monstered
by those with plans to make us an empire. We know that.
- America is indeed exceptional. That's not a boast, that's
a job we have to do. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson burdened us
with that exceptionalism in crafting the most important international law
signed up until the Geneva Convention: The Alien Torts Act, in which the
USA takes onto itself the right to bring civil penalties against any act
of torture, political murder and piracy that occurs anywhere in the world.
It is now being used in suits brought against Chevron Oil in Ecuador and
against IBM for the death of slave laborers in Nazi Germany.
- Damn right America is exceptional. It is America that
defiantly walked out of the first "world trade organization,"
known as the British Empire, announcing, "We hold these truths to
be self-evident that all men are created equal and are ENDOWED BY THE CREATOR
with INALIENABLE rights, and AMONG THESE are life, liberty and the pursuit
- Now, think about that. These rights don't come from Congress
or Kings or Soviets, they come from The Creator, that is, we are born free-and
"we" are Sri Lankans as much as Minnesotans. Our rights are "INALIENABLE":
no one, NO ONE, may take them away, not the Ayatollahs of Tehran or Generalissimo
Negroponte at the Department of Homeland Security or the kill-o-crats in
Baghdad pre- or post- Saddam.
- Will the snarling closet imperialists try to turn America
from its cause and soul? Damn right they will. That's why two U.S. military
lawyers resigned from their posts at the Guantánamo prison camp.
They wouldn't put up with Bush-niks tearing up their Constitution. ("We
the people" own it, not "them the Republicans.") In Iran,
these two guys would have been shot, in Britain arrested. In America, Bush
fears them-that their story would come out-as it did. Only in America could
- No question, the USA holds itself exempt from the legal
standards of this world-which are execrable. Whose standard should we adopt?
China's torture standard? Britain's Secrecy Act as a standard? Switzerland's
- Only in America would a Lyndon Johnson order federal
troops to protect Black school kids' right to attend class. You don't have
to tell me that Johnson then ordered the slaughter of three million Vietnamese-I
know, I went to jail to oppose it. But go to Vietnam today and ask what
people they most admire? Mention Russians, they laugh; mention Chinese,
they may hit you; mention Americans and they say (to my astonishment, I'll
admit), "We love Americans."
- They don't love Bush. That's because George Bush is not
an American. Look, I didn't think much of Bill Clinton, and he dropped
into some of the worst quasi-imperial habits of the New World Trade Order.
But Clinton was also more popular worldwide than the pope and pizza combined
because he represented that American sense of giving- a-shit, empathy and
sincere friendship which are hallmarks of America's Manifest Destiny.
- Yes, America does have a Manifest Destiny-to Let Freedom
Ring-which the evil and greedy and pernicious would twist into a grab for
land and resources and ethnic cleansing. And so the Manifest Destiny of
the journalists in our shitty little offices in New York and London is
to expose these motherfuckers.
- Ronald Reagan said, "America is the shining city
on the hill." And he hated it, doing his best to turn it into a dark
Calcutta of the helpless. And when that didn't work, George II tried to
drown us in the Mississippi.
- Go back to Taos, New Mexico, Voting Precinct 13. What
you'll find there is Pueblo Native war veterans who raise the flag every
day and will fight and die for it knowing full well that the fight must
also be taken to the pueblo's racially biased voting booths.
- Howard Zinn, a shining historian on our hill, reminds
us, "It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China,
and of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to
life as American children."
- Damn right, they do. That's what Jefferson meant by "inalienable."
- And they won't get their rights to life and liberty from
Osama's Caliphate of oil states or China's money-crazed "Communism"
nor half of Africa's neo-colonial presidential Draculas or the puppet princes
installed today in Iraq by George Bush.
- Bush is so far away from his refugee loser roots that
he just doesn't get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing
that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. When they take away
your Social Security and overtime and tell you sleeper cells are sleeping
under your staircase, you don't take a chance, you lose your chance, and
the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear and suspicion, an armed
- You want to say that George Bush is an evil sonovabitch?
I'd go further: he's UN-AMERICAN.
- And that's why he lost the election. TWICE.
- Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller,
<www.gregpalast.com>Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans
Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild from
which this is excerpted. Sign up for Palast's investigative reports at