July 4th, or … I pledge allegiance to the aircraft carrier

“Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are.”

~ Peter — Dawn of the Dead

I watched Dawn of the Dead (the original) on the evening of July 3rd. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, actually, but this was the first time I had watched it in a few years, and the line I quoted above hit me in a totally new way this time around. Instead of hearing it in the context of the movie, I heard it in the context of the ongoing militarized corporate takeover of the planet, and specifically, America’s role in that takeover.

Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are.

Indeed.

I paused the movie and said it out loud to the cat sharing the sofa with me. He was unimpressed, and put his head back down on his pillow, which is exactly how most Americans would react to such a statement.

Shut up, dude, I’m trying to watch the glowing box over here. Don’t make me think too hard about anything, and whatever you do, never, ever make me think about America as anything other than the super duperist, melting pottingist, terror-fightingist, democracy-spreadingist, home of the bravest, shiniest beacon on the hill in the history of the known universe.

But, but, but … what about our toppling of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953? What about our staging of the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident as an excuse for all-out war in Vietnam? And speaking of Vietnam, what about our carpet bombing of Cambodia? What about our unconditional backing of the apartheid state of Israel? What about our fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo? What about our nuclear holocausts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about our importation of Nazi scientists after WWII? What about our illegal invasion of Afghanistan? What about our illegal invasion of Iraq? What about our drone attacks in Pakistan?  What about our growing misadventures in Yemen? What about our role in the creation of Al Qaeda? What about the Patriot Act and all it’s attendant civil liberty erosions? What about our extra judicial White House assassination policy? What about our off-shore gulags and torture mills? What about our role in protecting Afghanistan’s international heroin trade? What about our destruction of our own working and middle class?  What about our 13 trillion-dollar debt? What about our…

Dude, shut up, I’m trying to watch Ultimate Lions Eating People American Gladiator Shop ’til You Drop Extreme Red Bull Wife Swap NASCAR Cage Fighting. Besides, didn’t you learn in American Exceptionalism 101 that our government only does bad stuff in self-defense against terrorists who hate us for our freedom to lie around watching Ultimate Lions Eating People, while we eviscerate their children’s sorry asses with missiles fired from flying robots? What are you, some kind of communist?

And so it goes here in the last empire standing. The myth is the truth and the truth is a myth, and this upside down version of reality has been fashioned into a corporate swagger stick that keeps us pulling on the rope of empire, just like the beasts of burden that we are.

But there’s always another day, right? For me, the next day was the 4th of July, and I decided to get my bike ride out-of-the-way early, before the ridiculous heat and humidity of New York City summer set in. My ride took me up the bike path along the Henry Hudson Highway, and again, I was seeing it through different eyes this time around. Instead of losing myself in my headphones, I thought about the fact that Henry Hudson wasn’t just some swashbuckling adventurer who happened to discover the area that would become New York City whilst water skiing and parasailing. He actually worked for a colonial corporation called the Dutch East India Company (which I’ll probably write about soon), and his arrival was just another in a long series of conquests by white Europeans that marked the beginning of the end for the native peoples who, in the coming centuries, would be mercilessly destroyed in the name of colonial corporate wealth, and twisted, Kiplingesque progress.

As I continued to ride north, I noticed that the NYPD was out in force, helping to prepare for the evening’s fireworks celebration along the Hudson river. It occurred to me that the police officers had a long hot day ahead of them in their dark navy blue uniforms. Then I remembered that it wasn’t too long ago that the NYPD wore light blue uniforms that were pleasing to the eye, and gave off an unspoken impression of helpfulness, as opposed to the current para-military styled uniforms that are much closer to black than to blue, and wouldn’t seem out of place on a Gestapo agent, which, of course, is the exact intended effect.

Check out Officer Friendly!

As I approached 42 street, I could see a long line of overweight people, clad in ill-fitting, corporate logo’d gear, clutching plastic bottles full of Coke and Pepsi products. Most of them were likely tourists, celebrating the 4th in the most American way possible; by standing in line to pledge allegiance to an aircraft carrier. The Intrepid is a floating museum dedicated to modern-day, jingoistic, chest thumping colonialism, and damned if these people didn’t bring me right back to Dawn of the Dead, aimlessly milling about like zombies, unwilling, or unable to think for even a second about the fact that they are worshiping tools of theft and destruction.

Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and …

Oh, never mind.

Happy fourth of July!

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