I haven’t been following the news about the protests in Egypt. I didn’t follow the news about Iran before that, or about Lebanon before that. How can I?
Americans who travel abroad always seem to be a little taken aback that people don’t hate them. That people can be kind to Americans and distinguish the people from their government. But those people are deluded. If they understood what America was like, and how our government operates, they would hate us. They would hate you. They would hate me.
The truth is that so much of the harm America does is purchased by us at the cost of only pennies. Our aid to Egypt, to Saudi Arabia, to a dozen dictatorships around the globe? It’s just a rounding error. It is not very much money at all.
How can any American bear to look at people protesting for their freedom against governments that we give money to almost without thinking about it? Every American is heir to an almost unimaginable harvest of blood. And we don’t really care about it.
The fiction that allows the people we oppress not to hate us — and that allows us to live with the blood on our hands — is that we could do nothing to stop it. But that’s not true. Do you believe that? I don’t think America is so undemocratic as that. If the people of America gave a damn, then we would not support these regimes.
And there are very few Americans whose hands are clean. If you voted for Obama, you voted to oppress people around the world just as much as if you voted for Bush. The actions required to end this sort of behavior are extroardinary actions: they are primary challengers, or self-immolations, or general strikes. They’re not simple matters. But they could be done.
I personally haven’t taken any of those actions. They’re too much work. Because of that, my hands aren’t clean. But at least I accept my share of America’s guilt.