Friday, July 3, 2009

American Atrocities

We Americans have a short memory about atrocity. Over the last 350 years, we’ve perpetrated numerous atrocities, yet they’re first rationalized and then forgotten. And pretending they never happened is what allows them to reoccur.

For the first three hundred years after we invaded and colonized what became the United States, we committed just about every imaginable atrocity against the Native Americans who lived here.

We exploited their naiveté by swindling them out of their lands and signing dozens of treaties we had no intention of keeping. We massacred them in their sleep, indiscriminately killing men, women and children. We hunted them down like animals and then force-marched them to concentration camps where we starved them to death. We used germ warfare against them by deliberately infecting them with fatal diseases. We rounded them up and then staged mass executions. We took their children away from them for reprogramming into Christianity.

For more than 200 years, we used Africans as farm animals and personal servants even though we knew they had been kidnapped against their will. We chained and mistreated them. We bought and sold them as chattel. We branded them and raped them. We hunted them down like animals. We took their children away from them to be sold as livestock.

During the Civil War, both the North and the South put fellow American soldiers into concentration camps where they were starved to death, mistreated and forced to live in unimaginable squalor.

In World War II, we dropped thousands of tons of conventional bombs on German and Japanese cities with no regard to the civilians who were living there. We put American citizens of Japanese descent into concentrations camps. We dropped thermonuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the war was all but over, killing 250,000 people and injuring countless more.

In Vietnam, we killed between two and three million Vietnamese with our "carpet bombing" and committed uncounted massacres where innocent civilians were wantonly executed. Other than William Calley, few were even reprimanded.

As part of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, we have killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians and 20,00 Afghani civilians. We have routinely kidnapped, held without charge, mistreated, sexually assaulted, sodomized and raped prisoners who may or may not even be guilty of anything. We have systematically tortured captives in violation of the Geneva Conventions. We have allowed military contractors to beat, rape and kill civilians with virtually no accountability.

The facts of these atrocities are not disputed by anyone. They are recorded in newspapers and history books. They are supported by documentation, witnesses and photographs. Yet, we still deny them. These atrocities are the dirty laundry that we refuse to wash.

Until we own up and accept the blame for these atrocities, we will keep committing them.

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