Overcoming Ethnocentrism in America

By Sam Hamod

Ethnocentrism is one of America’s greatest weaknesses. Unfortunately, too many of our citizens think that only our way can be the "right way." If we would learn to "walk in the shoes of others" we might better understand why we have become a pariah among nations. Most of our people are good-hearted and mean well, most of our people are very moral and would not harm anyone in the world unnecessarily. Unfortunately, through the misinformation of the media and that spawned by many in our government, through many of our overly ambitious and ethnocentric congress people and senators, most of America has been misled into hating others because we have not been told the truth and because other people, other nations, and other religions have been demonized to serve the ends of the media, the government and certain corporate ambitions.

It is time we understood that when we invade another land, that many people will react in defense of their families and their homes. What would you do if someone came in, beat you, your wife and children, and tied you up and kicked you once you were on the floor? What would you do if someone killed one of your brothers, sisters, your father, mother, your children or others within your family–would you give them your hand in friendship?

Unfortunately, too few people are willing to think about things from the perspective of others. Let us grant that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator–but he was not in a position to attack America, nor was he even, because of our air surveillance able to even move out of a small area of Iraq. Also, and this was a fact that our government and media did not tell the public, Saddam Hussein had a bounty on the head of Osama Bin Laden while Bin Laden had one on the head of Saddam Hussein! These men hated one another: Saddam was a secularist and Bin Laden was a right-wing Wahabi: each felt the other was evil and a threat to one another’s existence. Again, unfortunately, the American public was told they were allies.

Later, the truth came out, but by then we had gone to war against Iraq, where we  would ultimately destroy Iraq, kill hundreds of thousands of its people and sink ourselves into the mire that General Schwarzkopf and President Bush 1 had warned us lay ahead if we invaded Iraq.  All this destruction and sorrow in Iraq and America based on lies.

American ethnocentrism has also been pushed on our population by the neo-cons and pro-Israeli factions in our media and in our government. Witness every night, on Fox and other channels, their constant attacks on Arabs and Islam, calling out against "Islamofascism." Have you noticed that there is never any "Irishfascism" for the fighting in Ireland or “Spanofasicm for the fighting in Spain; this is racism at its worst and certainly feeds into a bad type of ethnocentrism. There is and was also the hand of Israel in this matter. The only nation that has benefited from this attack on Iraq has been Israel. Israel lost no soldiers in this war, spent no money in this war, and was able to get rid of an enemy that it saw as a potential problem in its design to control the entire Middle East. Israel’s hand was in this disaster in Iraq through such people as Wolfowitz, Feith, Rove, Zuckerman, Kristol, Schumer, Lantos, King, Clinton, Rice, Powell and others in the administration and in the neo-con group who helped push America into this needless and destructive war.

America and Iraq have both lost. Iraqis are dying at a phenomenal rate from disease, wounds from the war, unsanitary drinking water, weak medical supplies, depleted uranium that has a half-life of over 1 million years; America has lost many of its young men and women, many of those who have survived Iraq have come home either physically or psychologically wounded, thousands of marriages and business’ have gone down the drain while National Guard and others had to serve in Iraq, leaving their families and business behind and both of these fell into ruin. Not only that but our moral leadership in the world has been almost totally destroyed; we are seen as an aggressive nation by over 80% of the world, and seen as one of the top 3 threats in the world, along with Israel and Iran. 

We have also sunk into bankruptcy. Rather than spending money on our citizens and on our national infrastructure, both of which would have been beneficial to America, and to the economy as well, we have spent ourselves broke in Iraq–with companies such as Blackwater, Halliburton and others raping our national treasury–and often making more problems for our troops and for our nation just so that they can say, "You see, you need us in Iraq!" This of course garners them millions more in profits while our nation loses on all fronts.

Of course, Israel is happy because they have rid themselves of an enemy, at no cost to themselves–with little care about what damage it has done to America (without whom Israel would not exist militarily or financially). One must remember that every Israeli gets the equivalent of $45,000.00 per year from our treasury in loans and financial guarantees (yes, it’s from the tax money that you and I pay to our government) and also, if and when Israel needs weapons, we supply them (as happened when the Egyptian General Shazli defeated the Israelis and we had to take all of our tanks and other materials out of Europe to re-supply Israel so that they would not be totally defeated).

America also got caught again in the Israeli net when Israel dropped over 120,000 U.S. made Cluster Bombs in the final 48 hours of their invasion of Lebanon in 2006, these bombs destroyed the lives and homes of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.  Of course, America was blamed for supplying Israel with the Cluster Bombs, especially since they are outlawed by many international treaties, they are forbidden to be used against civilians (in this case, Israel used the bombs against villages in the South of Lebanon, in areas where there was little or no fighting).

The neo-cons and their Israeli allies, the aforementioned band plus some others in the government, are now trying to lie their way into helping to push us into a war against Iran.

Iran is not a threat to us–but is a nation that is not afraid of Israel. Israel does not like this and would like to be rid of Iran through using America as its foil–as it was able to do in Iraq. Let us hope that right thinking Americans will reject this set of lies and this illegal and immoral action, for if we fall for this Israeli trap, and the trap set by warmongers and corporate people who stand to make millions on another war, we shall reap the whirlwind. Iran would then send troops in neighboring Iraq that would create a disaster for our over-extended troops, many of the Middle Eastern countries would see more unrest because the populations would be upset, as are many by our war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we would sink further into immorality and in the eyes of the world and our recession could fall into the deep hole of a major depression.

Needless to say, we would make millions more enemies, so much so that none of would feel safe travelling anywhere in the world for fear that others in the world would see us as the enemy. Ours must not be the way of aggression, but our way must be one of peace with strength and morality, with honor, with a desire for peace, not empire. As our first president, George Washington, said, we should not do the bidding of other countries when it is to our detriment; thus, be not close to those who would drag us into needless wars, with its concomitant moral and financial bankruptcy.

It is time for our nation to reclaim its moral sense, its primarily Christian ways–not the ways of the colonialists, nor of the neo-cons who wish to conquer and rule the world (at this time in history, with all the weapons available, no one can control the world if the natives of a land do not wish to allow it). It is time we started realizing the ambitions of the other humans on this planet are much like our own–to live in peace, with friendship, justice and care for others. Others in the world may disagree with us, but that does not mean we must make them "the enemy" and demonize them. We must learn to "agree to disagree" in this world, as we are supposed to do in our democracy. Only then can we find a way to peace in this world; if we do not, then disaster awaits us all.

Thus, we must get past our ethnocentrism, thinking that we are always right and that everyone must believe and act as we want them to do –we must allow that others are humans like us but that they walk in different shoes for differing reasons. It finally comes down to the old Native American saying, "Do not criticize someone unless you walk many miles in their shoes." So be it, and may we all work together for peace and understanding.

– Sam Hamod is a poet who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, has published 10 books of poems, the winner of the Ethnic Heritage Prize for Poetry, taught at The Writers Workshop of The U. of Iowa, Princeton, Michigan, Howard and edited Third Word News in Washington, DC. He can be reached at samhamod@sbcglobal.net

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