America

Happy Independence Day, America.

Although I hardly think one measly day is nearly enough to thank you for the massive influence you have had over my life, watching from afar and copying your coolness, as so many of us have done and still do, please allow me to try.

Thank you for the Action Force/G.I. Joe figures I played with as a child (and the Star Wars ones I should have kept in their boxes, I now realise); for Walt Disney; for every pair of Levi’s I ever cut; for Dylan, Henley, Morrison, Presley, Sinatra and Jackson; for Brando, Pacino, de Niro and Nicholson; for Freddie Krueger and Leatherface; for Harper Lee and Stephen King; for Microsoft and Apple; for McDonald’s and Pizza Hut; for The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, The Walking Dead, Man v. Food and Most Evil; for Jon Stewart, Bill Hicks and Rich Hall (although my favourite of all your wonderful comedians remains one George W. Bush); for iced tea and peanut butter; for Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Al Gore; for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Paul Robeson; for each and every brave soul, one hundred times over, at D-Day.

For having such a beautiful national anthem which, due to your sporting prowess, we probably hear more than our own. For wishing people you only just met ‘a nice day’, something I think so lovely and often attempt myself, even though I rarely get more than a blank expression in return (at which point I sometimes take it all back and secretly wish them a thoroughly miserable day instead, the ungrateful bastards, something I imagine you don’t do in the USA so please don’t spoil the fantasy). For three of my best friends who shouldn’t appear last on this list, but do and wouldn’t mind one bit.

Yet I really wanted to show appreciation and great, great admiration for three more of your finest citizens. I think you should be proud of them and I believe that history will be kind to them.

First, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.

Whatever you feel about their apparent treason, and the reaction is certainly mixed, their acts of conscience should be an inspiration to everybody. How many of us regularly turn a blind eye to far lesser indiscretions, too fearful of upsetting the apple (pie) cart? It’s a good thing that some of us will not turn away, and what gives me some hope for the future is that these two men are under the age of thirty. I only wish we had whole governments made up of such determined characters who value commitment to truth and decency more highly than a comfortable existence with its associated perks.

Edward Snowden, a former technical contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), proved government violations of the fourth amendment, not to mention a violation of trust between the United States and European Union. Feeling is so strong that there have been calls to grant Snowden refuge in Germany or some other EU country. Clearly a principled young man with an idealistic view of the world, he has given up his somewhat privileged lifestyle in exchange for one where he has to look over his shoulder constantly and fear every knock at the door. Courageous indeed. Nothing too sensitive was leaked, it should be remembered; nothing necessarily unlawful was exposed either. He merely alerted the world to the extent that government agencies secretly trawl through our private data, suggesting mass surveillance on an unparalled scale. I do doubt the wisdom in his choice of safe havens, however.

Bradley Manning leaked classified diplomatic cables (260,000 of them) and video of an air strike that killed 97 civilians, and another of an Apache helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad that killed at least 12, including two employees of the Reuters news agency. This young Army private from Oklahoma did not seek to profit from this, and even after three years in prison (some of that time spent in solitary confinement where he has been subjected to treatment you would expect from a totalitarian state) still refuses to lie on the promise of leniency.

The video of the helicopter attack showed that those who tried to rescue the wounded were fired at before a tank drove over one of the dead bodies, cutting it in half – clear proof of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. Thank God that someone found it too disgraceful to ignore. The legality of the invasion and occupation aside, military personnel are not supposed to target civilians, prevent others from tending to the wounded, nor deface the bodies of the dead. I find it extraordinary that Bradley Manning should find himself in prison for bringing disturbing truths to light when those who have committed such crimes remain free to further fan the flames of extremism. I find it very hard to accept any argument that he put American lives at risk. After all, every needless yet loudly celebrated – it’s caught on camera – civilian death aids the enemy. The shame of this was what he sought to expose.

I hope that one day both these men will be seen as heroes, like that other respected whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, at one time ‘the most dangerous man in America’, who helped bring about the end of the Vietnam War by exposing government lies.

The third great American I wanted to include, also somewhat controversial, is the late Norman Borlaug, from Iowa. Recognised as the ‘father’ of the Green Revolution, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for the incredible humanitarian achievement of sparing an estimated billion lives across Mexico, India and Pakistan, the latter of which had been on the brink of famine, by developing a drought-hardy, high-yield strain of dwarf wheat – in a field, not a lab.

So the argument goes that this was only made possible by hugely increased use of water, pesticides and fertilisers, the full scope of health and environmental side effects of corporate farming are still not known. Questions about how we feed an ever-growing population are at least of equal pertinence today, compounded by the threat of climate change. Borlaug, who for fifty years lived outside the US, was well placed to speak of the outrage that ‘fashionable elitists back home’ could deny those struggling to survive in the Third World all the things that would allow them to become self sufficient.

All are heroes to some, villains and traitors in the eyes of others. They did what they believed was right. Whether we completely agree with their actions or not, whether we ourselves would have done the same, each one truly made a difference and made the public think. Isn’t that all any of us can hope to achieve in our short lifetimes?

I’d love to know what you think of Snowden, Manning and Borlaug, by the way.

Here are 100 Greatest Americans to also consider and appreciate that little bit more today. It’s quite a list.

I leave the final words to the great Mark Twain as we celebrate the land of the free and the home of the (often incredibly) brave:

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

70 thoughts on “America”

  1. I read with with Rammstein’s “Amerika” playing in my head. 😀

    We are many things including constant contradiction. There is no one America, there are hundreds and some do not wish to coexist with the others.

    We could be so much more.

    What is happening to Manning and Snowden is appalling to me. Appalling. But at its core there is the possibility of rightness if we can just find a way toward it.

  2. I’m just glad I never went to Glastonbury, what a load of shite.

    Damian

    1. So the reports are all saying Damian, I watched little bits on TV, all crap.

      The sound quality was awful I thought, on the bits I did catch.

      I purposely didn’t try to see the Stones even though I was curious, because, and listen to this for bare faced cheek, audacity, cashing in again, smug, arrogance… Jagger told the BBC (the BBC no less, a much bigger, better and older institution than the Stones) that they could only broadcast one hour of the Stones performance! Not the two and a half hours because they were recording it for a live album or DVD to come out later! You’d think it would have been a condition of their contract to play that they would allow broadcast since Glastonbury is also a British institution (by many accounts).

      I still haven’t forgiven Glastonbury either anyway, crap festival, sold out decades ago, surprised the Stones even wanted to play. I expect they know nobody decent wants to see them anymore.

      The cheeky f**ker had said before the festival, “they finally invited us to play!”

      They should have played for free or given their fees and ALL proceeds to a UK charity because they’ve never given anything to us in the UK for free.

      OK, I’ve finished, taking my tablet now, and breathing.

      ash

  3. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Watched the New York City fireworks display on TV out of one corner and couldn’t resist posting a little something. Started off with a Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner/orchestra mash-up. Overall visually appealing and every year they try to outdo thenprevious year … could swear the smiley faces were winking!

    Happy 237th Birthday to my adoptive country. I am thankful for many things over the 33 years I’ve been here and I’ll elaborate with another post.

    But before anything, thank you FEd for giving kudos to America on The Blog!

    1. Well, I know I’ve left out so many other things that I love and admire most about the US, but I’m hoping that someone else will mention them. I really shouldn’t have left out the Beach Boys, though. I’m listening to them as I write and if there have ever been more stunning harmonies recorded, I’d love to hear them.

    2. The Beach Boys’ harmonies are indeed stunning although I would like to believe, perhaps naively, that the ‘Harmony Stage’ is large enough (depending on individual musical tastes of course) to include Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, The Ink Spots, The Turtles, The Righteous Brothers, The Mamas & the Papas, The Three Degrees and these polished damsels.

  4. O, FEd, you obviously meant “United States of America”, didn’t you? Having some Canadian and Brazilian friends, I learnt to use the term USA instead of America …

    On-topic: what a self-contradicting country! So many done for the humanity and how does it trait its own citizens … As you wrote above, quite a few things that we love have they origin in the USA (cheers to Fender!!) and since it was their day to celebrate, I’m stopping here, say thanks a lot and won’t mention the dark side.

    Taki

  5. I’m going to comment about your post Fed, again a great one. I want to read it properly though first. However, I thought I’d tell you about something which I caught on TV last night whilst channel hopping.

    The programme was called Eye Spy.

    I found it at the point where a blind man (who was in on it) was robbed several times by another diner in a restaurant, because he couldn’t see what she was doing. Lots of other diners saw what was going on but no one said anything to the thief nor the vulnerable blind man, not until she’d helped herself, to his food and wine, several times anyway. They didn’t think to tell the staff either. They did eventually tackle her and some ran after her when she walked off with the blokes bottle of wine.

    That was interesting and thought provoking about people’s disbelief in what they are seeing, their nervousness about intervening, their feeling that they should have taken action earlier, in this case because they’d seen it going on, the victim was blind, if they alerted him to it, he (and others?) would have displayed disappoitment at not being informed as it happened thus causing embarrassment to the people who should have acted upon such dastardly actions. The group that ran after her were a second group of diners whom the crew captured on film.

    The next stunt the Eye Spy team pulled, was to examine how much of their time other people were willing to give to help an elderly shopper. Very amusing and some really heroic, patient people demonstrated the best in people. 🙂

    The next one was outrageously funny at times also alarming because this does go on, only much more subtly and often unnoticed.

    A group of people were invited to, I think, a winners’ reception. Security was tight for a reason I didn’t grasp, presumably because they were winners of something prestigious (or to meet their favourite pop group or something :)) ). Anyway, an ‘over zealous’, doorman picked out random people to be searched, the “random” people were all of a similar racial background. The Eye Spy team’s trap, was to see if anyone stood up for the guys who were obviously subjected to racial discrimination. It took a little while for the crowd to notice but when someone did speak up several others joined in to defend the three guys and demanded that they ALL be searched. They all, in fact, refused to enter the winners reception until they’d all been searched !

    I just thought everyone acted very commendably, if a little slow off the mark, they got there in the end.

    United we stand.

    Three cheers for decent people because there are still a lot out there.

    Sorry about digressing from your post Fed, which I will come back to but I had to get this out when it was fresh in my mind and while you could still catch the (bits of) the programme whilst it is available on Channel 4oD. Apologies to our international bloggers who might not be able to access British TV programmes. I hope I explained enough to give you the gist of it.

    ash

  6. I think what Snowden and Manning demonstrate is that there is a lot of gray area between whistleblowing and treason, and that the whistleblowers want that gray area to belong to the whistleblowers and the politicians want that gray area to be treason.

    I won’t pretend to know where that gray area belongs although if I were to take a guess based on what I’ve read, it seems like it was a lot closer to whistleblowing than treason. But if someone were to disagree with me there is no way I’d be able to put up a compelling argument to convince that person otherwise.

    But here is what I do know and what I would like to see and probably will not see. There needs to be SOME mechanism (NOT the courts or anything politically motivated) where a whistleblower can point out wrongdoings and have it made public if it is not shown to be treasonous if it were to be made public. It would need to protect both sides and give both sides a chance to argue their case and offer protection to the whistleblower as long as he plays by the rules. As it is right now, there is no effective whistleblower policy by any government (not just the USA’s) and that needs to be addressed.

  7. I’ll quickly say that I feel unity and support from others is key to the success and wellbeing of a whistleblower. If no one else stands up and says, “yeah, he’s right”, then he’ll be damned to face the consequences of his outspoken honesty and too often this results in him losing his job or being branded a criminal.

    I think Mr Snowdon didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know so I wonder why he put himself in the firing line. That is probably exactly what the problem is, why there are not hordes out in the streets all round the world supporting him, we are not surprised it goes on.

    Personally, I don’t care if ‘they’ are spying on my e-mail or phone calls. There is nothing wrong with anything I say (smirking to myself… you know what I mean…) I think I’m probably glad that someone is monitoring this stuff to help to protect our people. The only way to find some bad guys, is to go looking for them and they have to communicate, no? It’s just another weapon in our defence arsenal.

    I know I’ve probably missed something about Mr Snowdon. It probably is a very brave act to tell what he did, knowing the risks he was taking with his future.

    ash

  8. Ahem… Happy Canada Day too Fed and all. It was a memorable day I’ll never forget.

    Happy 4th of July neighbours.

    My Fave American was Abe Lincoln. Honest folks!

  9. I am so very proud of my home country of America however I feel one item in particular needs mentioning. In full disclosure I must first say I served in the U.S. Army for many years mostly in the 1st Cavalry Division (yes, of Apocolypse Now fame) and I am very disappointed that due to the financial sequester situation many of our brave men and women in uniform and their families were denied the tribute they deserve in the form of a fireworks display that were cancelled on most military posts yet our commander in chief received his.

    This is a microcosm of what is wrong with our nation. The ones who have to do the real work get forgotten while our “noble leaders” gobble up the trough undeservingly.

  10. Thanks for the nice comments on the United States’ birthday. I’ve been reading this blog since it launched, sometimes more regularly than other times, depending on the rhythm of life this side of the pond. One thing I do miss sorely is my life and times on the other side of the pond – I miss the United Kingdom and think we’re fortunate to have close ties to our British cousins and to your own place in world history.

  11. I am thankful for the collective American spirit which really comes to the fore during times of disaster … thinking of September 11, 2001, Katrina and Sandy. The outpouring of support and aid (not necessarily in the form of money) was astonishing at the local level and people ‘from sea to shining sea’ gave up their time and resources to aid wherever they were needed.

    A ‘shout-out’ to American firefighters. Now, these are a unique breed of people who give of themselves selflessly. Seeing them in action is a mind-blowing experience.

    Look closely, and you will see that Americans have a self-deprecating humour that is unlike any other. I love it!

    Thank you for San Francisco – one of the mot stunning cities in the world … the climate, the ‘Painted Ladies’, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park and what lies north. There is a reason Tony Bennett left his heart there and Scott McKenzie recommends wearing flowers in your hair.

    And, for every one hundred things I loathe about The Big Apple, there are one hundred more I love. Everyday I visualize living elsewhere knowing deep down that I probably couldn’t – knowing that I’m the tiniest of fish in this mammoth ocean just appeals to me.

    The blues (I slant ever so slightly toward Southern blues versus Chicago blues) speak to me of pain, joy, suffering, hope, life, death, taking risks and overcoming obstacles … not unlike the core of America.

    I am grateful for Martin Scorcese (what an amazing body of work), Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Janis Joplin, (of course Jimi), the invention of the electric guitar, William Faulkner (specifically The Sound and the Fury), Edgar Allan Poe, my ‘beloved’ Vincent Price who lent his voice to so many works, one of my all-time favourites being on the Black Widow (Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare) … the list could go on and on and on …

    America gets a lot of criticism – much of it justified, much of it not. What I do know is that there is a depth of character, warts and all, inside the collective spirit of the people that make up this colourful, beautiful country.

  12. Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, I think Crosby, Stills, & Nash (Young was born in Canada if I remember correctly), and so many more.

    It is a brave soul that speaks out in the USA. I was part of a Teamster Union trying to organization at the resort I worked out for eight years. The politics/lies were appalling that the management/owner perpetrated. So try to use your freedom of speech and see what really happens. Then one knows how free they really are!

  13. “Thank you for McDonald’s”, I couldn’t agree less (Mon Dieu! – It was a joke, wasn’t it?), but “Thank you for each and every brave soul, at D-Day”, I couldn’t agree more. We, here, will forever be grateful to these true (anonymous) heroes who fought and maybe died for our freedom.

    I read that 25 other nations also celebrate their independence in July (Hi, Frank, I hope you had a lovely day on 1st July, ‘Canada Day’, even though it may not be called ‘Independence Day’, as I think that Canada remains part of the Commonwealth – ???). I just wish that every country could celebrate their Independence Day, but there are still so many territories under occupation (Palestine, Tibet, Northern Cyprus…). One day, maybe… One can dream, right?

    Now, once again, not many women (I think none) were mentioned in this post. – Eleanor Roosevelt? – Ella Fitzgerald? – Paris Hilton? …

    Oh and I can’t believe you left out Twitter! 😛 A shame. Will you say “My bad”? 😉

    1. My bad. I shouldn’t have left out Twitter (or ‘my bad’, for that matter).

      Eleanor Roosevelt, definitely. Ella Fitzgerald, yes, she was very good. But I’d list 100,000 more before Paris Hilton.

      Here’s an excellent list: 100 Great American Women.

    2. Thank you for the ‘100 Great American Women’ list. Very instructive.

      But, Sarah Palin, a ‘great’ American woman? … Maybe I misunderstand the meaning of ‘great’ here.

  14. oh big fest…..big union…..but is more necessary for the america receive a little of peace.

    good vibrations america.

  15. More stunning harmonies? “You know I’m right”, FEd. Fine harmony! The more I listen to it, the more I love it.

  16. I have to say that I love the Fourth of July for we here in Portland, Oregon have one of the biggest Blues Festivals in the USA for the last twenty-six years. This year John Hiatt, Taj Mahal, Eric Burton and the Animals, Robert Randolph and his Family Band and Robert Plant and his Band of Joy, plus many other bands played for this four day event and it was GREAT.

    Take Care, Thomas

    1. There are “strong” words and then there are abusive words! By syncopa choosing abusive ones, he has violated one of the first tenets of this forum which is respect for its members.

      The fact is, syncopa that you are in a group of hyperintelligent, pandimensional beings from all over the world, including America, where I’m from, and yet you chose to prove without a shadow of a doubt that we do indeed have Ugly Americans in our midst.

  17. Contradictions (as someone said) seems to be key to understanding, or indeed not understanding (the United States of) America. I’m surprised actually Fed at the overwhelmingly positive tone of your piece … not unpleasantly surprised, but I felt some of the obvious negatives might loom larger in your view.

    When I think of America I find myself dismayed at a number of big problems … the disgraceful, systematic destruction of the indigenous “Indian” tribes, the viciousness of racism, the cynicism of post-war politics against a background of anti-communist paranoia, the fixation on material wealth and consumption as a “value system”, the corruption of organised crime…

    Of course I am not blind to the failings of our own (as a Brit) record and I guess this is probably the point. America, it seems, had the potential to be different. It all started so well. The Constitution was (and remains) a beacon of rational, lawful Government. As Pavlov reminds us, the vision of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a bountiful, beautiful land offering succour to the oppressed from a Europe torn by war, feudalism and urbanisation … what could possibly go wrong?

    What could possibly go wrong was that, given such an opportunity, humans f*cked it up as usual. It’s our unique trick. This not-to-be repeated “clean sheet” proved a showcase for all that was good and bad about us … and somehow amplified it all. Freedom and the pursuit of happiness translated into self-reliance, greed, opportunism. Humanity exposed in all its beauty and ugliness. Just look liking in a mirror, it doesn’t make attractive viewing for the rest of us.

    Of course, given the chance I would much rather live there than (say) China. If there has to be a Global Superpower, this is the one I would feel least anxious about. Freedom, the rule of law, toleration … these are precious things. I just wish that the pursuit of happiness didn’t always have to be at the expense of others … perhaps those West Coast hippies were onto something.

    1. In fairness, I have been thinking quite a lot lately of the incredible pressure that’s on the US. It seems to me that Obama carries the responsibility of the whole world around with him. As everybody knows, you pile too much pressure on anyone’s shoulders and eventually they’ll crack at some point. It doesn’t have to be a spectacular breakdown, maybe a few things get dropped and broken here and there, some corners are cut to save time, and certain minor things are conveniently forgotten about because few people will even notice. Do you think maybe that’s what’s happened with the USA?

      I’m also reminded of Oliver James, who has written many times, most obviously in his books The Selfish Capitalist and Affluenza, that the more a country aspires to be like the US, the unhappier its citizens become (greater levels of stress, depression, suicide, murder, financial ruin, etc.). The opposite is Denmark, regularly found to be the happiest nation.

    2. Freedom, contradictions and all that …That reminds me, didn’t they (well, the US congress, I think) change the name of ‘French fries’ to ‘Freedom fries’ when France opposed going to war in Iraq?

      Never mind… Besides not becoming involved in a pointless war, we also got a good laugh out of it… 😉

    3. C*NTS!!!

      When I think of America I find myself dismayed at a number of big problems … the disgraceful, systematic destruction of the indigenous “Indian” tribes, the viciousness of racism, the cynicism of post-war politics against a background of anti-communist paranoia, the fixation on material wealth and consumption as a “value system”, the corruption of organised crime

      You DUMBF*CK, it was you ENGLISH, unfortunately my ANCESTORS, who brought that SHIT to AMERICA.

      What could possibly go wrong was that, given such an opportunity, humans f*cked it up as usual. It’s our unique trick. This not-to-be repeated “clean sheet” proved a showcase for all that was good and bad about us

      WWII. Again DUMBF*CK, things HAVE to be handled sooner or later, or the inmates run the asylum. Unfortunately, it’s innocent human beings that are sacrificed, but if the hardest decisions don’t get made, they becomes steely.

      You all should be smarter than to talk politics here… To think that ANY ONE of you could make these types of decisions… C*NTS…

    4. Happy to learn two new great words (C*NTS and DUMBF*CK). They sure add something interesting to the discussion… You also taught me the word BULLSHIT a few years ago… Thank you so much, Syncopa. 😉

    5. Syncopa, in fairness to all the contributors to The Blog, I don’t think anyone claims to be able (or would be foolhardy enough) to make decisions of such great magnitude … we are all (and I suspect you included) ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacks’. It’s human nature to look to the past, colour it with our own interpretation based upon a variety of factors (be they socio-economic, family history, education, etc.) and then build our own view of the world and its goings-on.

      As for what is discussed on The Blog, the topics are broad in range, nuts and bolts, A to Z if you will, and yes, they include politics … everyone’s daily life is tarnished to some degree with politics – whether it be a mother or educator having to navigate through the politics of a school system; the politics of fund-raising, the politics of being self-employed or working for a large corporation, household politics, music industry politics — all those pesky little things that make up day-to-day life. And of course there are the more ‘traditional’ politics as well that vary from country to country.

      What makes The Blog so unique is that we can have these discussions (and vent) in an honest and non-combative tone (we do not always agree with each other by the way), are respectful of one another and perhaps get a refreshing (and often much needed) look at ourselves through the eyes of others.

    6. Syncopa, in fairness to all the contributors to The Blog, I don’t think anyone claims to be able (or would be foolhardy enough) to make decisions of such great magnitude … we are all (and I suspect you included) ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacks’. It’s human nature to look to the past, colour it with our own interpretation based upon a variety of factors (be they socio-economic, family history, education, etc.) and then build our own view of the world and its goings-on.

      Pavlov (and all),

      This is going to be hard to put into words, here’s my attempt.

      I am NO Monday morning Quaterback. I do not pretend to understand the politics of the Planet. I am no megalomaniac, and wish to be in no position to have to decide who should live or die, suffer or receive aid, and as such my opinion on these matters are just that, an uneducated opinion. I prefer to spend my efforts trying to guide local politics, where I actually feel I CAN make a difference. In my opinion, those who think they KNOW what the answers are concerning the world political platform, are usually the same that strap bombs to their bodies and go walking through the mall, with their answer. When somebody (especially British) puts out the claim that Americans killed the Indians, it deserves the reply DUMBF*CK. I’ll leave that at that.

      FEd, I had no belief you would even publish my words… Thanks.

      My apologies to you Michèle. If you can’t handle harsh words, this is definitely not a conversation for you. I don’t mean that as a “dig”, but heavy conversations involve strong words.

    7. Syncopa,

      Against my better judgement, let’s see if we can shine a little more light on the subject. After all I do like a conversation, although in my experience conversations that start with a shouted insult and then drift rapidly off the topic at hand tend to be short ones.

      You seem to be seeing some link to my comments about some aspects of United States history and society as being about Global Politics and difficult International policy issues. (They aren’t, believe me.) In particular you paraphrase me as claiming that “Americans killed Indians”. Whilst undoubtedly there was a lot of killing on both sides of that unfortunate episode, let’s look a little closer at what I said.

      Firstly you seem to think it is particularly inappropriate for someone British/English (one is a subset of the other by the way) to express this opinion. This is unnecessary. We all know that the United States of America was built on immigration and that the early settlers were British colonists until Independence was declared. Any comment about “Americans” in this era recognises that. Independence was nevertheless declared and, like it or not, the history that follows is Your history. The whole point of my ‘dismay’ is that this new society, and in particular the westward expansion by new settlers, gives a vivid illustration of the conflict that arises when colonisation meets indiginous cultures everywhere. It’s not a uniquely American phenomena but it is an undeniable aspect of the history of the USA, in part because of the story of the “wild west” as a major cultural export.

      So, what I actually said was “the disgraceful, systematic destruction of the indigenous “Indian” tribes”. Lets see what part of that you disagree with.

      “Disgraceful” – disgrace arises out of bad conduct, public dishonour, something shameful. Setting aside the individual human tragedy based on genuine ignorance of culture and language, my point here is that a common and recurrent feature of the relationship between colonists and native Americans was the cycle of making and breaking of treaties concerning territory and land rights. Whilst often portrayed as “savages”, it was frequently the case that the tribes were pursuaded, in the face of superior force and sometimes a genuine desire to accomodate, to concede territory peaceably, only to find the terms broken soon afterwards.

      I call that behaviour disgraceful and dishonourable. What would you call it?

      “Systematic” – Westward expansion was not just a free for all. It was Policy. It was justified by the term “Manifest Destiny” and an inherent combination of white supremacist racism, a distorted philosophy of “Christian” superiority and a desire to build a new World of Freedom and Civilisation. Once again the lessons we can learn about this are universal, but for me it is interesting that people consciously expressing views and aspirations about freedom, opportunity and civilisation can so readily turn to oppression, greed and violence. Again, I’d be interested to hear your views about that.

      “Destruction” – not quite the same as “killing”. The consequence of the Westward expansion was the ending or destruction of the way of life of indiginous cultures. The Indian reservations would meet nobody’s definition of an ideal solution. This is with due respect to those who work hard to preserve what they can of Native American culture, history and rights. It seems to me this a straightforward fact but if you would like to argue otherwise, please do.

      Of course you live in a free country. That makes you free to not give a shit if you don’t want to. You can be as rude, illogical, dogmatic and paranoid as you like. That’s your right but I wouldn’t go making a virtue of it. In the meantime we’ll carry on discussing the issues, both big and small, that Fed tees up for us. Maybe rather than write comments that you don’t believe Fed will publish, you should concentrate on writing something that illuminates the discussion and that you could take some pride in.

    8. Once again… I said it would be hard to put into words that could not be misconstrued. I hate to paraphrase but let’s make it simple for you… I AM YOU AND WHAT I SEE IS ME!

  18. Please don’t judge America by our government politicians, judge us by our people.

    I believe Edward Snowden leaked that information because he believe it to be morally right in the big picture. However, what he did was illegal and if he should decide to come home, he will have to stand trail.

    Edward is protected by our Bill of Rights, and they will certainly apply in the worldwide glare of a sensational trial. In our country a man is still “innocent until proven guilty.” The prosecution must prove his guilt “beyond a shadow of a doubt” to a 12 man/woman jury of his peers. If the prosecution does not prove his guilt in that manner, then the jury cannot convict. The defendant NEVER has to prove his innocence in a trial, he is considered innocent from the start. The defense only has to tear holes in the prosecutions case, to create “reasonable doubt.”

    With flaws in everything, I still believe in our system of justice, it is the best in the world. I am proud of our founding fathers, they crafted the Bill of Rights to protect the rights and freedoms of our citizens, and I must say, they did a damn good job.

    Snowden would have a good defense team, every attorney here will be fighting to get this case, lets face it, it would bring them fame and fortune. And, he will be able to afford it because he will be aided by donations from outside people/organizations. I don’t believe this man is guilty of treason, that’s a real stretch. Many here are proud of his actions, give the American people a little credit.

    I hope Snowden comes home, stands trial, is found innocent of the charges and set free. He could do a lot of good here. I am concerned that right now he is a “man without a country.” His parents must be beside themselves, worried to death, and sick at heart. Does anyone here believe that the three countries that have offered him asylum (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia) can protect him? I think not. He needs to come home and put this behind him. I wish him only the best.

    Remember America is a melting pot. Americans are made up of people from all over the world, the British, French, Italians, Germans, Latin Americans, Europeans, Nordic, Asians and on and on. That is what makes us unique and strong. Still today with all the bad press we get, millions stand in line to gain access and become American citizens, why do you think that is? I am damn proud to be an American, although I constantly complain about politics and politicians. After all, I believe that is my right. 🙂

  19. Off the Soapbox… I would like to say Thanks to:

    – Our ancestors for the flag and National Anthem, and to France for the Statue of Liberty ( 🙂 Michèle).

    – Clara Barton for the American Red Cross (needed a lot).

    – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Maya Angelou, Raymond Chandler and John Steinbeck.

    – John F. and Robert Kennedy and the days of Camelot. ♥

    – NASA and Neil Armstrong for putting us on the moon first.

    – The Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for bringing down Richard Nixon.

    – Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    – Bruce Springsteen for “Born in The USA.” 😀

    – Lynard Skynard, .38 Special and The Allman Brothers Band for great southern rock.

    – Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and The 5th Dimension(Aquarius-Let the Sunshine In), and for B.B. King, Janis, Jimi and Jim. For Van Halen, Aerosmith, The Eagles, and The Grateful Dead.

    – Starbucks for being there when I need you. 😀

    – Harley-Davidson Motorcycles for all the great rides. I still love you. ♥

    1. Thanks to France for the Statue of Liberty.

      And thanks to the American Community of Paris for giving The City of Paris a replica of the Statue of Liberty in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. 🙂

      It’s located on l’Île aux Cygnes (Isle of the Swans) in the Seine, facing west in the direction of its larger sibling in New York City and bears the insription: IV Juillet 1776 = XIV Juillet 1789 (American Independence Day and Bastille Day).

      Both statues are beautiful symbols of Friendship, Freedom and Peace between our two countries, I think. 🙂

      Please, read more here.

  20. Happy belated 4th of July to my American friends… A-Rod is back in action, Go Yankees!

  21. I came across an Independence Hop Ale for you and our American friends to celebrate with Fed!

    I rather liked the sound of some of the others: Hazelnut, chocolate, Voodoo (????), a beer with bananas!?

    What’s really got me wondering though, is the Free Range Coastal Water. :))

    ash

  22. Hello, everyone! 🙂 I hope everyone is well and happy! First, let me apologize for this belated “America” post! I’ve been keen to contribute! We had an epidemic of summer busy-ness: if I had a nickel for all the crises…

    Let’s kick off the American music with “Carry On” by this amazing talent, a new American group, Fun!

    They most deservedly won a Grammy for this song. It’s almost too beautiful. I can’t get enough of it!!!

    I discovered this song while looking to buy a “Made In America” Flag (and this year, hooray! I actually found one): Americana “Made In China” is a serious pet peeve of mine. Ironically, for the last several years, until now, ANYTHING made in the USA for our own national birthday has actually been nearly impossible to find!!

    But back to the song! I thought it was so beautiful, that I barely made it out of the parking lot to find the flag in the first place: it didn’t just leave an impression, it ran me over with tank treads!!! 🙂

    My husband is a HUGE and lifelong Barry Manilow fan! And I’ve developed an enormous appreciation for Mr. Manilow’s Bacchanalian songwriting, singing and showmanship! So my husband reached a personal concert-going highwater mark when he saw Barry Manilow perform live at A Capitol Fourth, the huge 4th of July celebration in Washington DC!

    I saw his energetic performance from home on PBS, while my husband was dancing in the street, 100 feet from his iconic hero 🙂 What an unforgettable night!!!

    I think I mentioned doing the dying cockroach in past parties to that classic song, “Shout,” and here’s a slightly sanitized but still jubilant version by Darren Criss of that dance, starting at 3:33.

    We celebrate the 4th of July twice: where we live, we have a healthy preholiday fireworks display by neighborhood families as well as a nearby public park that has a lovely professional show. I love it! 🙂 No traffic to battle, no tailgate parties to navigate: I can just walk out my front door, brats and beer in hand, looking up to enjoy what John Adams wished for future celebrations of his brand new country’s Independence:

    “…they ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”

    And quixotically, Neil Diamond has completely won my heart for his deeply touching performance during “A Capitol Fourth”: “Sweet Caroline” had the whole mall, thousands of people happily singing in unison every “bap-bap-bahhhh…” he is a true Bostonian! Here he is at Fenway Park, performing for Boston Red Sox Fans, less than a week after the terrorist bombing, bless his heart!!!

    From A Capitol Fourth, 2013: “They’ll Never Take Us Down”.

    Last but not least, “America”.

    1. As you mentioned the Boston Red Sox, as a Liverpool fan, I should also thank the US for John W. Henry and Tom Werner. Sure, they bought the club to make money out of it, but they seem like good guys and they did save us all from the bumbling idiots Tom Hicks and George Gillett (also American, but never mind that).

  23. I wanted to add that the countryside the USA offers to frolick about in is beautiful. Of course, it depends where one goes. But that is true anywhere; much beauty to behold on the planet but careful where you go… The moon is full tonight. That always makes for a gorgeous night landscape bathed in moon light. Good for hiking.

    On a whole other subject. FEd, when you comment and it comes up on my screen it does not follow after the person’s comment you are commenting on. Your replies are all blobbed together. Also when I try to use my icons; it cuts off the remainder of text that was after icon. This is probably due to my iPhone 4 capabilities (or lack of). Not complaining though. I feel fortunate to have the 21st century technology in my hand.

    Hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful summer.

    1. On a whole other subject. FEd, when you comment and it comes up on my screen it does not follow after the person’s comment you are commenting on. Your replies are all blobbed together. Also when I try to use my icons; it cuts off the remainder of text that was after icon. This is probably due to my iPhone 4 capabilities (or lack of).

      Hmm. I’ll look into it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    2. You should be a real virtuoso to post so good big comments by phone. For me, it’s always a problem to type a miserable couple of words (with these tiny squares!). And getting “coupler” instead of “couplet” again and again, I remember Steve Jobs’ words that one day we’ll need to sharpen our fingers.

    3. Upps..

      Apparently he said “to point” or something… not “to sharpen” of course (I think, Jobs hardly could foresee we would scratch each other’s eyes out on our screens). :))

  24. Got to love George Carlin. Awesome comedian, probably my favourite American… well, apart from Peter Griffin!!

    Happy Days,
    Simon J

  25. Michèle,

    I remember the “Freedom Fries” thing. We all here (in USA) got a good laugh out of it also. I think it lasted about 5 minutes and it was over. I recall a friend of mine saying, “…are they serious?” 😀

    Viva La France. 😀

    1. I also remember ‘Cheese-eating surrender monkeys’, but seem to recall a Scotsman started it…

  26. Wow – thank you! I was truly blown away by your words; I really was moved to a few tears. I feel even more pride in my country after reading that and I’m definitely humbled. Thank you very much, once again, that really meant quite a lot.

  27. If you can’t answer a man’s arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.

  28. Hi there everybody.

    I will never forget the story that my mother, 9 years old in 1945, told me many times, when she saw the Americans arriving into her town (at the border northeast of the Italy), many of them were on the tanks and an American soldier gave her an orange. The most precious gift of her last five years.

    The Gilmour’s Anniversary

    “It ‘a gift to meet someone that likes you the way you are. Overall judge you forever. So live and do what your heart tells you. Life is like a play that has no initial tests: sing, dance, laugh and cry before the curtain falls and the work ends with no applause.” — Charlie Chaplin

    Best wishes to you David and Polly, on your anniversary. May your marriage be blessed with love.

    Ciao Elisabetta

    1. Elisabetta,

      Sounds like he had been on a war till ’94… (sarcastic smile – I don’t know how to put it here, FEd, have you that one, please, a slightly sad and sarcastic, you know).

      1. Slightly sad and sarcastic… Will this do?

        :/

        No, I don’t think it will.

        This one?

        😐

  29. Hello everybody,

    How are you? Happy 19th Anniversary to David and Polly, if I’m not wrong…

    I just wanted to say that on Friday night I attended The Wall by Roger Waters once again, a wonderful show. For a purist of music like me, though, It’s always a tragedy to listen to somebody else on guitar, no one can replace David in music history.

    Finally I managed to attend Neil Young and The Crazy Horse as well, I’m so happy. Give a listen to Psychedelic Pill if you haven’t done it yet, “Ramada Inn” and “For The Love Of Man” are masterpieces, pure expressions of art from the bottom of a soul.

    Forgive me for being off topic…

    Love,

    Piero

    1. Namely, I suppose, that also David’s soft voice was missing, besides his guitar, expecially in “Comfortably Numb”.

      Cheers, ciao
      Elisabetta

  30. Unrelated, but sentiments most sincere:

    Happy Anniversary Polly and David. Many more to come. 🙂

  31. Interesting blog, as always, but this one has stirred much emotion. As far as citizens in the USA having equal justice I beg to differ. Look up statistics of those on death row and the unfortunate ones that have been “put down” in Texas only to find through DNA they have/had the wrong person. The number is astonishingly sad. A person in many states can wait in jail for many months for an overworked public defender to be appointed to represent the charged individual. This is due to budget cuts. Red states like to save money by cutting the funds for this. Citizens with money have much better “teams of lawyers” representing them than the average person or the poor sap. So guess who gets to go and who stays.

    In regards to Indian people I have been very fortunate to be friends with many. I feel for what has happened. Living in the mountains most of my life and near reservations I have been invited to sacred areas. I love the philosophy that no one owns the land (soil), air or water. What a concept. We all know that is so very history now.

  32. My dear irregulars, since when does base vulgarity substitute for intelligent conversation? 🙁

    Why do we have to respond to Syncopa at all? Obviously, his form of communication disrespects everything posted here, perhaps he would be happier on another blog somewhere else, anywhere else. I would like to say “Goodbye” to Syncopa.

  33. I have nothing to comment on Edward Snowden, I don’t know if he should be considered a traitor or a hero (although I have another idea of the meaning of the word ‘hero’), and, to be honest, I don’t care, but, seeing that he got today asylum for one year in Russia, Russia will certainly be accused now even more than ever of playing Cold War games with the US… 😉

  34. It’s pretty funny that everyone is so enraged that the government is collecting a minimal set of data on people for the purpose of protecting them and no one has anything to say about the private sector collecting a much greater data set for the purpose of selling it to interested parties. Folks need to grow up and recognize that we are living in an information age. In the end, being debriefed by the FSB will be the only thing Snowden has ever done that matters.

    1. I happen to think that the collection of data by BOTH government and the private sector is surreptitious in nature. We are ‘profiled’ at various levels for voting details, spending levels, purchasing habits, for telemarketing purposes, just to name a few.

    2. I’ve asked several people this question since Snowden starting leaking but never get an answer: What exactly is it that worries you? How do you think you have been harmed or hindered by this? Genuinely curious. Thanks.

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