by Stephen Lendman
Ron Kovic's an anti-war activist. He was born on July 4, 1946. Vietnam combat left him paralyzed. He's wheelchair-bound.
His memoir titled "Born on the Fourth of July" became an Academy Award-winning film. Oliver Stone directed it. Tom Cruise played Kovic.
An updated 2005 book introduction said in part:
Vietnam's "disastrous war" changed his life. It affected countless "others of (his) generation profoundly and forever."
Back then was "a lifetime ago." He was 18. He has photos of how he looked. Recalling them shakes him badly. He can't do it without experiencing nightmares.
He can't face the uninjured young man he once was. His trauma still runs deep. His "beautiful body (was) destroyed, defiled and savaged."
His Vietnam experience left him "physically and emotionally haunted." It pursues, threatens and overwhelms him.
He still experiences "nightmares, constant anxiety attacks, severe heart palpitations, and a powerful, almost obsessive feeling that I would not live past my thirtieth birthday."
He lives each day like his last. He reflected on Bush wars. He envisions "another Vietnam unfolding." Today's America is far worse than then.
Washington "pursues a policy of deception, distortion, manipulation, and denial, doing everything it can to hide from the American people" its true agenda.
Flag-draped coffins return. So do "paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain damaged and psychologically stressed."
They fill VA hospitals. Record numbers of active military and veteran suicides go unnoticed. Nearly two dozen vets alone die daily this way.
Doing so reveals America's dark side. Most people don't know. Little gets reported. Broken lives don't matter. War is hell. Who's knows if people aren't told. Those living it know best.
"To kill another human being, to take another life out of this world with one pull of a trigger, is something that never leaves you," said Kovic.
"It is as if a part of you dies with them. If you choose to keep on living, there may be a healing, and even hope and happiness again - but that scar and memory and sorrow will be with you forever."
Leaders promised never again. It's worse now than ever. Wars rage out-of-control. New ones are planned. Permanent war is official US policy. Today's "war on terror has become a war of terror."
On July 4, Kovic turned 67. He's no longer the whole man he used to be. He doesn't sleep well at night. Emotional and physical pain haunt him.
Many other war vets experience the same thing. Washington destroyed their lives. Visit a VA hospital and see. Is this what America stands for? Is waging war more important than peace?
"Life is so precious," said Kovic. Young generations are too special to lose.
All federal holidays reflect hypocrisy. Independence Day's no different. It mocks Jefferson's Declaration. He said governments "deriv(e) their just rights from the consent of the governed."
"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government."
It's morally, ethically and legally just to do so. Resisting tyranny's a universal right. Protecting freedom depends on preserving it. Noncooperation with evil is fundamental.
On July 4, 1776, America gained independence from Britain. Everything changed but stayed the same. Same old, same old continued. It did so under new management.
Duplicitous politicians planned it this way. Today we'd call them a Wall Street crowd. They included bankers, merchants, planters, ship owners, lawyers, politicians, judges, slave owners and traders, speculators, smugglers, privateers, and other type wheeler-dealers.
"We the people," meant them. They created a government of men, not laws. Property owners alone had rights. Ordinary people didn't matter. They were entirely left out.
Women were thought fit only for homemaking and child-bearing. They were considered appendages of their husbands.
Blacks were property, not people. Native Americans were enemies. They were systematically exterminated. Privileged white men alone ruled.
John Jay (America's first chief Supreme Court Justice) said America should be run by men who own it. John Adams reflected the same sentiment.
He wanted it run by "the rich, the well born, and the able." They had others like themselves in mind.
Government of, by and for the people meant them alone. Democracy was verboten. So was populism. Bill of Rights protections were for them. Self-styled patriots were frauds.
In 1787, Adams and Jefferson weren't among America's framers. Adams was ambassador to Britain. Jefferson was in Paris in the same capacity.
It wouldn't have mattered either way. Elder statesman Benjamin Franklin was too enfeebled to participate. He observed without exerting influence. Washington's was a legend in his own time.
His presence held things together. Students today don't know he never got past the fifth grade. Franklin was mostly self-taught. Only 25 of 55 delegates attended college. Hamilton dropped out.
Framers crafted a future corporate state. They wanted wealth, power and privilege alone served. Equity and justice for all were quaint artifacts. Ordinary people were exploited.
Promoting the general welfare meant serving them. Presidents were empowered as virtual sovereigns. It's mostly true in times of war. Checks and balances exist in name only. Constitutional provisions exclude what matters most.
Michael Parenti calls it a "conservative document." It protects America's "bourgeoisie('s freedom to) invest, speculate, trade, and accumulate wealth." It legitimizes capital's divine right.
Holiday celebrants ignore US history. Students aren't taught it in school. Making them good citizens alone matters. Doing so excludes America's dark side.
It's no democracy. It wasn't created as one. It never was beautiful. For sure, it's not now. Native American genocide was perhaps the greatest ever.
It was unparalleled in scope and ferocity. It continues in new forms today. Killing an entire culture is longstanding.
"Kill the Indian, Save the Man," explained Ward Churchill. Doing so's entirely ignored in mainstream discourse.
Howard Zinn said America committed genocide "brutally and purposefully." It was done "in the name of progress." General Phillip Sheridan explained, saying "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."
The African holocaust was just as grim. It reflected 500 years of colonization, oppression, exploitation, and slavery. Much of it trafficked to America.
Black Africans were captured, branded, chained, force-marched to ports, beaten, kept in cages, and stripped of their humanity. They were sold like cattle. During the Middle Passage, millions perished.
They were packed like cargo under deplorable conditions in coffin-sized spaces. Sometimes they were placed one atop one another.
They experienced extreme discomfort. They had poor ventilation, little or no sanitation, and overall appalling conditions.
Dysentery, smallpox, blindness-causing ophthalmia, and other diseases became epidemics. Conditions below deck were dark, filthy, slimy, full of blood, vomit, and human excrement.
Women were beaten and raped. Claustrophobics became insane. Others were flogged or clubbed to death. Anyone thought to be diseased was dumped overboard like garbage.
Zinn called American slavery "the most cruel form in history: the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave."
Celebrants have other thoughts in mind. They're enjoying outings, picnics, barbecues, ballgames, outdoor concerts, parades, fireworks displays, visits to the shore, and other type recreation.
Suffering millions today don't matter. America's dark side isn't known. Permanent wars are someone else's problem. Sacrificing freedom for security goes unnoticed.
Monied interests alone benefit. Ordinary people are ruthlessly exploited. Patriotism means going along with what's wrong. Independence Day celebrants do it unwittingly.
The New York Times called July 4 "a salute to the brave." The Washington Post highlighted an "Independence Day Watermelon Bash."
The Wall Street Journal said "fireworks light up the skies." The Chicago Tribune noted "fireworks, festivals and parades." The Los Angeles Times featured recipes.
All mainstream news fit to print isn't worth reading. Television created a nation of morons. What's most important is suppressed. Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure. Junk food news entertains.
Imperial wars go unnoticed. So does homeland repression. Class war raged for decades. A race to the bottom reflects official US policy. Unconscionable poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and despair go unmentioned.
Celebratory relaxing matters more. Unreported truths aren't told. Wars of aggression aren't liberating struggles. Civil liberties aren't suppressed for our own good.
War is America's national pastime. Independence Day glorifies what requires condemnation. Dark side reality reflects unconscionable harm.
Independence Day hypocrisy suppresses what demands highlighting. Don't expect complicit media scoundrels to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.