American vanity, greed and ego spawn retaliation from many foreign nations

    Think of the guy who drives around your neighborhood every day in a sport-utility vehicle the size of an armored truck, blasting the stereo at jet-engine decibel levels. Stop signs? Optional, even with children in the street.

    He doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and why should he? In his eyes, he’s Da Bomb, yo.

    At any rate, you’d punch him in the eye if you ever got the chance. He’s the biggest jerk on the block and everybody knows it. Well, everybody except him.

    On a global scale, the United States is that jerk and Sept. 11 was our punch in the eye.

    Swaggering around the world and pissing on everyone we can to further America’s own economic interests is a quick way to make a lot of enemies, and that’s just what we have done.

    Nobody has a problem with the ideals of democracy, not even terrorists, I suspect. Democracy by itself — and done right — could save the world.

    But the attacks were not an attack on democracy, on New Yorkers, or on World Trade Center workers.

    What happened Sept. 11 was an attack on capitalism. It attacked the people in charge of it — the rich — and the people who make it work — the rest of us. That’s what Osama bin Laden says in his videos.

    The rest of the world no longer sees a separation between global capitalism and the U.S. government. There is no reason to see anything else.

    Bush’s presidential campaign received 97 percent of its $100 million from about 800 individuals and corporations. Gore did basically the same thing. Even with campaign-finance reform, the notion that democracy is a privilege still extended to nonmultimillionaires is a joke.

    How much is $97 million? Take all 3,560 Marshall students, pay them $27,000 per year to work and wait 12 months — just don’t expect them to pay rent or buy anything in the meantime — and there’s your $97 million. What is an entire year’s work to 3,560 people is pocket change to the rich.

    Rich people don’t care much about you unless you are helping them make money. That’s how they made their money in the first place: by getting you to work for them as cheaply as possible. If finding cheap labor means moving jobs out of America and into Third World countries, that’s fine — it’s more money for them.

    If you don’t think they would treat you worse if they could, think again. Look at that shirt you’re wearing. Yes, the one with the label that reads “”Made in U.S.A.”” The flag motif is awfully patriotic and misleading for something that was probably made in a Saipan sweatshop. Saipan is a U.S. territory near the Phillipines, but lacks the fancy things associated with our country such as decent labor laws.

    The United States was recently kicked off the U.N. Human Rights Commission panel. Sudan and Libya were voted in. It was a proud day for America, I’m sure.

    The corporations that run our nation are responsible for wars, child labor, indentured servitude, and worldwide environmental destruction. They praise “”freedom”” and “”democracy,”” even as they contradict those principles domestically and abroad. And we take their bait.

    Everybody else in the world sees it, though. Get a European pen pal and ask him about it. Watch the “”BBC World News.”” It’s there.

    We love knowing that as Americans, we can have anything, take anything, and expect the rest of the world to shine our shoes while we’re doing it. We love that it makes us feel powerful, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Americans did not deserve what happened Sept. 11 and the rest of the world does not deserve what we do to it, either. We share responsibility for the attacks. Terrorists will not relent until we stop raping the rest of the world.

    To help explain: Say I was walking down the street and some guy suddenly decked me. He was justified, though, because I’d slept with his girlfriend and he found out. I’d still fight back, even though he had a reason to attack me.

    But say that I slept with someone else’s girlfriend a few weeks later. Next thing I know, her boyfriend is punching me and so are the two friends he brought to help. I’d still fight back.

    Another two weeks pass and the same thing happens for the same reason.

    How would I best avoid getting pounded every week? I would need to change something obvious about my behavior. Nevermind that I can defend myself and beat up my attackers — if what I’m doing to cause them to attack me is wrong, I am responsible.

    America cannot maintain its attitude of superiority forever. The rest of the world helps sustain us and we’ve given it the short end of the stick for decades.

    If you’ve ever had someone else take all the credit for a story you helped write or for a project you helped complete, you have a very tiny idea of how the rest of the world feels about America.

    Some may argue that we have helped rebuild many war-torn nations and think that should count for something. We have rebuilt nations, yes, but corporate America isn’t one big, happy, philanthropic family: If our economic interests were not at stake, we would not have done it.

    Corporations are not the problem, but the selfishness and abuse that some promote is a problem. Limited liability allows corporations to do almost whatever they please because no one is held personally responsible. Even if a corporation is fined, it writes it off as a cost of doing business. If executives were held personally responsible for their business decisions, I think that “”business ethics”” would no longer be a paradox.

    Terrorists can destroy the world economy, or we can change it safely ourselves. I’m not about to die for my money — let alone for the money of some super-rich control freak — and neither should you.

    If you invest in the stocks of abusive corporations, stop. If you don’t have stocks and your bank account is running on fumes, stop buying from them. If you know that you work for one, call them on it. You’re working for them, not the other way around.

    If you don’t like that idea, fine. Do something else to make a difference. Tell everyone else your idea so they can use it too. America is counting on you. Baking a cake decorated like the U.S. flag doesn’t count.

    For all the flag-waving, most Americans barely know what we’re fighting to preserve. In recent years, our government has sent troops to support America’s corporate greed and national sloth much more often than it has sent them to support anyone’s freedom or democracy.

    We need to find the people who attacked us and bring them to justice. But if we’re looking for who was responsible, it is a short search. Just follow the money.

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