America: The Land of Denial
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Being a lifetime New Yorker means I took notice when the Red Sox came to town this week. Tens of thousands jammed Yankee Stadium...each pretending the House That Ruth Built does not stand on land stolen from a nearly exterminated indigenous population. Millions more tuned in to watch on TV...powered by electricity, which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels. We pushed environmental degradation from our minds and cheered for our team.
Yankee announcer Ken Singleton is an African-American...but we all opted to ignore the slave trade that brought Africans to North America. In order to better enjoy the sports spectacle, it's not recommended that viewers contemplate a nation built upon a foundation of slavery.
Toyota is one of many "official sponsors" of the New York Yankees so it should come as no surprise that the broadcast featured more than a few car pitches...but, of course, no mention of the car culture. After all, how can one enjoy our national pastime if forced to consider that the surreptitious cost of the automobile lifestyle is nearly $500 billion a year in the U.S. alone...much of that going support the waging of perpetual war to keep the world safe for petroleum?
The presence of David Ortiz from the Dominican Republic could've spurred a discussion of U.S. complicity in the overthrow of Juan Bosch...but it didn't.
Of course, "God Bless America" was the seventh inning sing-a-long. Everyone stood and sang and blocked out the more than one million of our taxpayer dollars spent per minute on war.
When Bernie Williams came to the plate, our minds were not cluttered with thoughts of his native Puerto Rico as the world's oldest colony.
Mike Mussina struck out the side and a kid in the stands pulled out his cell phone to tell a friend all about it. His conversation contained no mention of columbite-tantalite (a.k.a. "coltan"). Global demand for this common cell phone component is fueling war and environmental destruction in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Who knew?
Panamanian Mariano Rivera warmed up in the Yankee bullpen. Not a whisper was heard about the illegal 1989 American invasion of his homeland or the malevolent machinations behind the building the Panama Canal more than a century ago.
It takes an awful lot of denial just to exist in a society like ours. Look around: Those folks over there, yeah, the ones chowing down on stadium franks...they're not thinking about factory farming, Their minds don't seem distracted by the fact that the EPA considers 30 percent of all insecticides, 60 percent of all herbicides, and 90 percent of all fungicides to be carcinogenic, yet Americans spend about $7 billion on 21,000 different pesticide products each year.
That guy parked next to you in his SUV isn't pondering the reality that the top one percent of Americans own wealth equal to the bottom 95 percent. That woman buying a Derek Jeter jersey doesn't appear bothered by the 1200 citizens incarcerated each week or the 4000 new cases of cancer diagnosed each day or the 19 insect species becoming extinct each hour.
The Yankees pull off a double play...but 52 of the top 100 economies are the planet aren't countries, they're corporations.
The Red Sox make a pitching change but it doesn't change the fact that every day, 80 percent of Americans take a potentially addictive prescription drug and 52 percent of those drugs will be either pulled from the shelves or relabeled because they'll prove to be more hazardous than studies had indicated.
Watch out...Jorge Posada is hit by a pitch. This provokes a far more dramatic response than polar bears having to swim up to 60 miles for food and subsequently drowning...due to climate change melting the Arctic ice shelf.
A-Rod steals a base...and not a soul seems worried about 100,000 Americans losing their health insurance each month. Every two seconds, somewhere on this planet, a child starves to death. (How many have did we lose while Jason Giambi rounded the bases after his three-run homer?)
As Arundhati Roy explains: "People from poorer places and poorer countries have to call upon their compassion not to be angry with ordinary people in America."
Ward Churchill takes it further...warning us that the same people Roy refers to "have no obligation-moral, ethical, legal or otherwise-to sit on their thumbs while the opposition here dithers about doing anything to change the system."
Noam Chomsky sez: "You are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions." By "actions," I believe he is also implying "inaction."
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.