Monday, March 25, 2013

The heart of dystopia, WASHINGTON DC

(c) Naj Neoresistance
My Persian new year Sun rose in Washington DC
My newyear sun rose on Washington DC; the city where I moved to because of first curiousity and next the promise of "sky is the limit". Those who knew me, warned me that I was not the sort to find happiness in America. they were right. I am leaving, in a hurry, there is too much WAR in this city for me to survive it sane or healthy. I must leave.

This city is depressing me. Not because my "free-speaking" led to my prompt termination based on the "employment-at-will" law of DC; but because in every corner of this capital city I look, I am reminded of  WAR.

Two days ago, I conjured the courage to walk up to the Lincoln Memorial. Hoping to hear a bit of trivia I lined up to listen to the park ranger who started by engaging the audience with: "So, have you guys ever been in a fight?" A few raised their hands. I got stomach-sick over the word "fight" and ran away with my camera to find stones to capture in contrasting lights. My husband explained later that the reason why he started his presentation with the word "fight" was because he wanted to mention that the memorial was to symbolize peace after the civil wars, which ironically was fought over the North/South arguments on "freedom to own slaves". And it was on the stairs of this mausoleum that Martin Luther King delivered his dream for JOB AND EQUALITY of the 'slaves', 100 years after they had been 'freed'. And yet, 60 years later, America is still in war, and jobs are tied to the war economy.

We had parked the car a block away in front of The Institute of Peace, the congress-generated organization for peaceful resolution of the world conflicts--I suppose in oil-free nations!

Perhaps it is this little "peace" hypocrisy that makes Washington DC so intolerable for me, the architecture as grand as it may be, is soulless, and fake. I cannot "photograph" it with the same passion I would in the other genocidal capital of the world, Berlin. Germanic architecture (pre-war) doesn't "fake" peace.

I had read that the most spectacular of the Smithsonian's collection would be the Air and Space one. Soon I learned why. In a space that was much too small for the amount and the diversity of "flying objects" on display, nuclear missiles, Mars rovers, German bombers, spy planes, space shuttles, and passenger carriers, crammed together with the Oliver/Wilbur Wright inventions and drawings--much  like a breakfast dish at iHops or any other American deli, where nutrients of little culinary relevance (e.g. pancakes, and scrambled eggs and beans and fruit salad and fried potatoes and bacon) are piled on top of each other to impress the customer with American "generosity".

Impressed, I was, with the foolishness of my kind to find a MARKET for any great invention of mankind: the best market for air and space pioneering, for electronics and communications has been the war industry. For it to thrive, it has been essential to create an unsafe climate, and a sense of patriotic fear (of Iran, Russia, China, American-enabled-Al-Quaeda, even little-Cuba), that would justify pouring more and more of our human and earthly and heavenly wills into making and buying faster, better, bigger killer machines.

Wars make little jobs for little people, and big profits for the big bosses! I admire all of those 'hobos' who have refused to be part of this machinery. And I resent war profiteering, be it for little or big people.

When we finally left the museum (with me in tears, and shortly after, sick with a fever), we noticed a building that looked like Canada's Museum of Civilization. Except that this one was "The American Indian Museum". "Indian"??, we asked! Is it politically correct to use the word Indian? In Canada, they call the 'indians' "The first nation", or "aboriginals", or call them by the name of the tribe or the territories. But they are never called "Canadian-Indian", this would be an insult. But perhaps it is because the Canadian settlers did not quite massacre the aboriginals as did the American settlers. Perhaps because the winters forced them to work with the first nation. Perhaps the survivors of the massacred people would be pleased to be called "American" and postfixed as "Indian". Certainly, I don't know.

But I do often wonder, whether this fascination and obsession of America with weaponry comes from feeling insecure about being in occupied territory; or from all these different wars that America has fought.

There are mass-graves everywhere around DC: the dead of Vietnam, First world war, Second one, Korean, Iraq, Afghanistan ... ghosts everywhere, sacrificial territories everywhere, particularly in Virginia that engulfs DC and houses its Pentagon and CIA ...

America always fights these "JUSTICE" wars, at least as far as the popular consumption goes or the drafting ads suggest. Along the notion of justice comes the machinery of law and order. I have started to understand why "LAW" enforcement in America is such a big business as well.

I learned, through the ordeal at my job, that what I would take fore granted as a simple labor right elsewhere, is nonexistent here. That a hospital like the one employing me, and boasting about a one-time 150 million dollars given to it by Sheikh of Abu Dhabi (his name and not so flattering portrait hanging everywhere in the Hospital) to set up a research center to "focus on pain elimination for children" is spending 40 million dollars/year on legal fees. From what I am gathering on internet, my ex-employers have quite a reputation for getting in trouble with Unlawful Termination. Through my ordeal, more than once have I heard the American-born human resource department employees "apologize" to me for what I am put through, and express desire to move to Canada! That perhaps explains those big weaponed scary guards in front of the hospital door.

In fact the firm of one of the best labor lawyers of this city suggested that I have a high chance to take legal pursuit seriously. She stated that their firm "was intimately familiar with X hospital's labor practices" and suggested their top-lawyer, who would talk to me for 500$/hour, be consulted. Interestingly, although jobless, I do not qualify for legal aid, nor for free medicine (because of the Salary I was promised). To receive any social service in America I need to be on drugs and abjectly poor. This bizarre mechanism explains why the middle-class in America feels so squeezed, and acts so petty when someone talks of social services. Not only do they carry the highest burden of taxes, they are not entitled to any benefits. I now understand the root of tax-resentment in America. It is used to make America GREAT by funding WARs. The average persons like me are left to fend off for themselves, whether they need social, legal or medical care--and we are discardable if we don't play the game. 

40 million dollars/year in LEGAL fees is a little over 25% of the one-time donation amount solicited from some Arab Sheikh, with recorded SLAVERY in his mini-country. But, if hospitals don't mess up, how are the lawyers to make big money? So why would the lawyers help clarifying/fixing the laws of the nation? And if people don't get sick of chronic stress about jobs and wars and bad eating and living habit, or from post traumatic stresses of wars, then how would the insurance and medical practices make big money? So why fix broken systems that keep feeding the populace and create jobs?

I keep asking: where is the common sense?

To make the matters worse for my own depression, I also watched a season of the netflix hit,  "House of Cards", the American version, after I had watched "Upside Down". In the past, I would not have any tolerance for such political thrillers, or dystopic fantasies. I would find them too dramatized, too cartoonish, with agents and officials speaking a certain tone which I assumed was to theatrical or too robotic to believe.

That changed too, ever since I started my life in DC. Dystopia has now a real tone for me, after spending a lot of time talking to various government offices, with people introducing themselves with their agent-code and speaking to me in a tone that has made me pause in a few occasion to ask: sorry is this a human or a voice-robot. No, I am not kidding.

In Washington DC, the hub of the WAR industry, the heart of the "country of the free", I am learning that those who "would NEVER live under the Iranian dictatorship",  would also not risk losing their livelihood that is tied to DoD, Pentagon, CIA or the Hill. For there is this thing in DC called "employment at will", that enables those in the upper food chain, to just fire those below without really needing to explain much. Association with a "careless" "opinionated" person like me might be too impudent for someone's income. It is an illusion perhaps, but it is a strong illusion, one that makes you pathologically paranoid, and forces me to be in the "offensive" and "defensive" simultaneously--it is making me into a fighter, the wrong kind though.


Anonymous said...

With your kind of attitude, I can see why you got fired.
You talk about war. If it hadn't been for the good old USA, your native country in Iran would be ruled by German fascists today. Making light of all the dead people buried in DC shows you have a severe lack of understanding about sacrifice. You have your cemeteries in Iran too. And there are many buried there who may not have approved of the government, nor their policies, but still fought for their homeland.
You might be happier back in Iran with your mullah butchers. Then you might appreciate America.

Naj said...


you see, you are part of the problems of this world; you and your historical naivitee and your childish ideas about "sacrifice". It is indeed your voluntary slavery, which you call "sacrifice" is the root of much evil in the world. The "fascist" Germans are easy to blame for historical crap; but why willfully ignore who harvested the benefits. Was it the dead American soldier? Or the military industrialists who got richer and richer from war- and post-war economies? We do have cemeteries and to be honest, I think Iranians worship death and sacrifice a little too much. The best countries of the world are those that do not glorify the dead, but the living. Travel to Berlin; where the heros died for the greater good of their evil leader. Travel to Paris where the "cowards" caved and continued to serve wine. Which country is more intelligent? Which is more beautiful? which is happier and more fun to live in? France or Germany? Canada or the United states? I am afraid as much as I hate Iranian Mullahs, I cannot find much reason to "appreciate" America's. What I also do not appreciate in America is the brain-washed populace like you, who think themselves "righteous" in a sense that you aim to "sacrifice" yourselves for the greater good of humanity. Read and look around; your country has done little more than dumping CRAP since they took the Germans down (oh wait, it was the Russians who marched in BErlin, the Americans decided to incorporate the nazism and make use of their knowledge while calling it a cold war!)

radius said...

Hi Naj, I very much like your sharp words. I agree that sacrificing ones life for a higher idea (religion, nation,politics) is stupid and a crime against life. The recent bomb attacks in at the Boston Marathon clearly shows what I mean: The victims and injured causes a sense of sorrow and tragedy, but the memory to them will last for a long time. The two torrorists themself, however, only induces a sense of hate because of their stupidity and how they liberately through away their your lifes. And I have the same feelings when I hear US soldiers going to the Middle-East and announcing that they are only doing there a "job". If they loose their life during this "Job", what else can one say than "you stupid, whey have you thrown away your young life so easily ?".
But I don't agree with your general US bashing, of course. My experience with americans (based on some travel and some expats as friends or colleagues): you have (like among all nations) a lot of small-minded, but you also have extremely gifted and creative people (the same as among French or Germans).

best regards, Michael (from Germany, former East, now Munich)

radius said...

Dear Naj, Susan Sontag (or Kurt Vonnegut, I forgot who it was) once said when asked about what they had learned from the Holocaust: "10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 percent could be moved in either direction." Your pityful experiences with the americans, I hope were only a sampling artifact. You might have ended (by chance) with the not-merciful ones. At least one thing is simply a very, very bad habit: to invite somebody from abroad and than treat him/her like this. Anyway, I hope you get over this bad experience quickly, and try a new start, hoping that you might meet a better bunch of people.

best regards, Michael (from Germany, former east, now Munich)

Naj said...

Dear Michael,

Nice to meet you; and thanks for leaving a note.

I agree with you; and I hope I do not come across as generalizing my dumping words to Americans, as individuals. But I DO, exact my words at the American system; and at the fact that the 80% are powerless to "change" their system.

I find the SYSTEM and not the Americans to be the problem. I have lived in Canada, in Western Europe and in Iran; and I have travelled extensively in America and have plenty of American friends, who agree with me that something about their country is completely screwed up!

My problem, I argue, was caused by this screwed up system. I am a bit of a strong-headed spear arrow (my friends have warned me to NEVER work in Germany! ;) ) so some shit happened to me and I talked about it. But what happened to me is happening to a lot of people, who take it without overt complaint, but with grudge, with stress, with unhappiness turning them weak and mean, the flippant 80%.

I think a country that is built on the premise of WAR and military expansionism is FORCING on its nation to be self-appraising with aggression. Have you seen Sieberberg's "Our Hitler"?

radius said...

Hi Naj, I have not heard about Syberbergs movie. I think its from the 70s, as I saw in IMDB. But it is said that one can legally watch it online. I can imagine that comming from Western Europe to the US is still a cultural shock. Most Western European countries (France, Germany, Scandinavia etc) still maintain a sort of rudimentary socialism ("nobody is left behind"). The question is if this has a chance to be kept alive, in face of the intense economic competition from the new emerging countries. The French economy has seen this very dramatically: Lost almost all high tech competence to the Asians, the car-industry is almost collapsing, steel-industry and machine-building also lost competiveness. How can a social-care system (benefits for everybody, free medical treatment, early retirement, high state pensions) be maintained ? And the French luxury industry (Moet Chardon Champaign and Dior Jewellery and Luis Vuitton Bags) can by far not generate enough profit to nourish a whole nation.
In the US, the system is much more cruel, in a sense that it does not promise to spent what has not been gained before.

You said that it is not the people who are sick, but the system. But if one considers the lunatics who posses more than 300 million guns in the US, and are confident that they will use them for selfdefense against anybody they consider a treat (Stand-your-ground shoot), I would rather see the people an immanent problem. And you can easily change the rules of a system (like Obama did last year by introducing a compulsory health insurrance for everybody), you can not easily change the attitude or the habit of people.

regards, Michael

Naj said...

Michael, thanks for starting this interesting conversation.

I made a post about the film almost 6 years ago!; just hinting at why it is relevant to watch today.

As for the rise of the developing world and the shrinkage of the Western Europe "no one left behind": The crux of the problem is the duo capitalism AND consumerism.

First, let's tackle the system:
We are in the time of capital in the age of mass production. You say that in hard technology, automative, and hi tech, the asians have gained ground, plummeting the western blue chip stock; and you talk about competitiveness. I agree, labour in Europe is expensive, and the labor laws and laborer rights make it harder for the capitalists of the world to make humongous profit in Europe. On the other hand, there is a rising population of middle class in China, for instance, that is as eager to consume and double their penny as were the post-war western europeans. The rise of globalization and neoliberalism are defended by arguing in favour of economic growth. But, how sustainable is our bottomless appetite for growth and for consuming? And what is the role of the governments in protecting the labour force against the greed of the owners of industry. The capitalists of the world have held the governments and the population hostage to this flawed zeal for "growth", and as we are watching, have been eroding the fabric of local economy and social welfare systems.

Now, you talked about the lunatic gun-touting individual. Well, let's look at the historical precedence for it. America is built on occupied territory. The new settlers have been both massacred and massacring the aboriginal population. All this has happened in the very recent history. And then, there has been slavery, and the wars of the north and the south. So, the anxiety of "someone taking away what is your earned right to a land" is almost genetic in the US. And in modern times, this anxiety has been augmented by the fear of communism and now the fear of Islamism; and America does exacerbate its own anxiety by creating conditions that puts it on the waiting-list for disaster, conspiracy and animosity.

In principle, I am against the model of "the survival of the most competitive". In our traditional (Persian/Oriental?) societies, in our myths, in our poetry, the "fittest" is responsible for taking care of the weakest. In our culture, the elderly, the sick and the mentally ill are respected and taken care of; and not discarded for their inability to be part of the mass-production system. The wealthy have a responsibility to maintain the social justice, the social balance. Greed is a problem, both personal and institutional; and unrestricted growth is malignant. To change the culture of greed, the definitions of power and prestige, and to de-emphasize the divinity of MONEY is perhaps what the world needs today!

radius said...

Dearest Naj, You are indeed a great philosopher, and I think you have the potency to rule the people. Your points are so that 90% will agree on them and follow you, if they listen to their heart, including myself. But in the moment that one looks to some of the recent historical trends, it might be difficult to stay to the ideas of a better, human society.
My experience in life might be not so much different from yours. You refer to the Persian/Oriental tradition of solidarity between the people, that those who have more naturally share with those in need. I lived 28 years in a country that attempted to buildt up a socialist society (East Germany). And my memories to those years are very similar: people always helped each other, did not aksed how much it cost or if or when they receive something back. It was a general habit that being helpful to each other pays out in the long run. The government provided free social care, education, health service, and everbody enjoyed this. But on the long run it became obvious, that system on a whole was not competitive. The majority of people were looking for western goods (bananas, chocolate, drinks, electronics, luxury goods), and I have to admit I also was crazy to get U S chewing gum (as kid) or real blue jeans (as a teenager). So the east german political and economic system in fact did not collaps in 1989 because people wanted freedom, but they wanted material wealth (yes, I am ashamed myself by admitting this). Now, when we all arrived in the west, we know that material wealth is still an issue, and the best one can do is to find another purpose of life. Thanks god, the "pursuit for happiness" can have all sorts of goals.
But what I think now by looking backwards to my experience in a socilaist society is that the very social and friendly relationships between the people had no long term consequence. And the end, they were the first to decline to western consumerism, sacrificied everything including their family values and liberal and tolerant attitude, some turned into extreme nationalism (like the recently discovered neo-fascist gangs, other became depressed. At the end, the western values succeeded. But there is one point I consider crucial, and that is creativity. I think that the liberal western societies, whether or not you consider them human or social, provide the best environment for creativity. Whatever field you choose, science, literature, modern music, innovative technology, all the stuff we enjoy and humankind is proud of, they all are products of the liberal, western societies.
Correct me if I am wrong, please.
best regards,

PS: In contrast to your opinion on the political situation in the Middle East, my firm believe is that (a free) Iran and (a peaceful) Israel are natural allies (as they have been in the past).

Naj said...

Hi Michael;

Well last thing first: I think Iran and Israel are great allies, whether in peace or in war; but that is a separate issue.

The material wealth, the bugle gum, the jeans ... I know what you are talking about; and perhaps a bit of personal history will help elucidate the point I will try to make:

I grew up under sanctions and during the war. That meant, from living the opportunity of living in a "little-America" as many Iranian cities were like before the revolution, we were thrust into a sovietic PLUS religiously ideological confinement. On top of it all, bombs fell on our heads!

As a teenager, I had friends who would go to great extent to secure themselves a Madonna Poster, a Michael Jackson T-Shirt, a pair of Puma's or Lee's. I had friends who proudly wore Nike sweaters and flaunted other western goods. Schools were prohibiting such exhibitions; creating a heightened craving, a sense of rebellion, an illusion of "coolness". As such, works the cultural invasion of capitalism; and against it, we had set up, by our Mullahs a cultural revolution, intent on getting rid of it all. Both camps, uneducated and reactionary.

In addition to the state and the school principal, I had another "exacting" force: my mother! Mother was an ardent anti-communist (and I am sure it was more because of the American propaganda, than because of her knowledge of it); bust she was also an ardent anti-capitalist. She had set up a model in being proud to be an independent outcast. She educated us and implanted in us PRIDE in being independent; and analytical. She made it a case of pride to not wear any logos, NEVER. And she made it clear that wasting materials and time was the lowest of low. To date, at the age of 75, you cannot find her doing "nothing"; she is learning, following, discovering, to the best of her abilities.

When revolution came, and tool all from us, we were not really devastated. And when she went to live in America, she was not really taken by awe or shock! The same, for her children, when they migrated.

The point I am trying to make is that it takes a bit of cultural foundation making, a bit of immunization, to secure society's falling in the capitalist trap. I say it is a trap, because while presenting itself as a model that encourages creativity, growth and freedom, it works against all that. It funnels everything into creating a dominant peak. The successful capitalist works to be the singular top. And in so doing, it creates an autocratic labour system, in which the individual freedoms are reduced to ensuring the system maintains itself, or else it will disintegrate.

Take a look at the banking crisis in the world; and how the bankers have held our "democratically elected" governments and us hostage, that if you let us fail, you will be nothing.

When a self and a society constructs itself around the notion of "having", it loses its existential resilience.

Going through my job ordeals, I was getting lots of calls from concerned friends and relatives who expected me to be devastated to be "out of a job." But I am not. The reason is because I know how to live with nothing when I don't have, and how to enjoy life when I do; and importantly, to CHOOSE which line of work satisfies my sense of purpose in this world. I think, if I had bought the beautiful A5 Audi that my heart desired, and had rented the gorgeous two bedroom condo that would suck up two months of my salary if I had cancelled early, I would not have dared to be BOLD.

Let the world think I am pitiful, poor and backward. I don't see any reason to play the world's bigger/better game. I find something else to enjoy than driving a car! And for this attitude, I am neither grateful to the Islamic Republic of Iran's early socialist aspirations, NOR to the wealth and freedom I had access to when I arrived in the heart of it all. I owe it all to Mother.

radius said...

Hi Naj, I liked very much your short, but very pointed characterization of your mom. I hope she gave you a lot of her wisdom, but also the gift to be patient some times. My experience with the US is very marginal, as I told you before. I remember the last time I went to attend a conference in St.Luis. I arrived there Sunday afternoon, pouring rain, the hotel located in a sort of industrial area, the streets empty, except a few police cars. I was really shocked and wanted to change my return flight to an earlier date. But than, a couple of days later, I discovered another part of St. Luis, the more historical area, with students clubs, book stores, amazing parks and museums that showed the history of the pioneers. One learned so much about the early seddlers, and those who ha a real interest in the culture of the natives and learned and studied their skills. And St.Luis downtown appeared to be of a very heterogenious population, students, artists, people who were in the book business, scientists, musicians of course.
What I want to say is one should never rely too much on the first impression of a place. Sometimes just some meters around the next corner there opens a complete different world.

I hope you are doing fine, best regards, Michael

Naj said...


you comment brought smiles to me, thinking "jesus, Germans cannot help feeling entitled to offering advice!" (another one of those things in common with Persians)

But to disambiguate you, I am not a new-comer to America, and I am a voyeur; that means when I go to a new place, I don't just sit and wait for a taxi to take me from point A to be in a conference. I take a city bus and let it take me to unknown corners; or drive through neigborhoods, and talk to people. The one thing I do like about America is that talking to people is really easy, much easier than the rest of the world. Much of my opinion about the US is formed through talking to the American people; who underline the reality that their fucked up system is built on their "childish" innocence (or entrapment).

Now, do you think if I exercise "patience", then Pentagon and CIA and the countless graveyards and war museusms are going to just disappear and the city become a symbol of peace and harmony? I can imagine that perhaps in German culture, war holds a romantic cultural connotation; perhaps for you images of warriors and power-exuding eagles and lions and etc are all aesthetic symbolism. To me, they are disgusting. And I use the word disgusting not as an abstract word that tries to diminish something with a blanket slogan; but I mean the world in the very literal sense: it makes me physically, physiologically, immunologically ill. Berlin, right after the wall fell, made me ill too. Washington makes me ill too. And no amount of patience is going to take that away; because no matter how patient I am, the history, the brutal history of a nation BUILT on romanticizing "war and sacrifice" will not go away. In North America, I prefer the Canadians, "The americans without guns", the peacekeepers, whose invention of the tools of communication, the theories of communication, together with countries peace and prosperity nulls the hypothesis that he new world powers NEED to be built on massacre ground, or the grounds of massacre.

radius said...

On this point we have indeed different a different opinion. It is not that I like war memorial tourism or Sunday walks over military cemetries, but there must be something that keeps the memory of the tragedy and absurdity of military conflicts alive. I think without this, the nations would much more careless to attempt military solutions to solve their conflicts. What I really hate, though, are the demonstrations of military strength, during armed parades. And there the US are nor much different to Russia or China or France (or even the Irish with their St. Patrick's parades). I once went to San Antonio in Texas, a rather calm and tranquil town, untill of course the locals remember the battle of The Alamo and celebrate their ever present military srength up to now. An undertone of revenge than sounded through the brass bands marches.

I don't know how the Canadians deal with this, but don't they also do parades to glorify their army, but decorate it with balloons and hot-dogs and free beer to make it look as if the military expenses are all used for leisure days ? This is always ment to glorify the past, and to make people less reluctant to start another military adventure. In this sense, I think your bad feeling in face of the victims at the Berlin wall or in Washington in front of the war memorials is an authentic feeling, because what else should one feel when looking back in history ? The 20s century in Europe and Asia was like the competition for the most inhuman measures to change history. And I would say that the Germans were perhaps the undecorated winner in this field. But just trying to get rid of the memories and pretend that everything was just glorious, thats the first step of doing the same stupidity again and again. So there a lot of historical documents about the war here in Germany, not so many memorials, but museums and memorial sites like the concentration camps and Gestapo offices and the like. But none of them carries symbols to make one proud of (its a pitty that the initiative by some people in Germany after 1989 to replace the Eagle with a Peace Dove was not successful). They all show the profanity and disaster of war and oppression of others and very similar to what you described, they leave us with a feeling of physical, mental and emotional disgust.

greetings, Michael

Naj said...

Hi Michael:

you ask: "there must be something that keeps the memory of the tragedy and absurdity of military conflicts alive."

Yes, the most poignent of such memorials is in fact in Berlin: Kathe Kollwitz: Mother with Her Dead Son!

But, if you do visit a memorial site on a sunny spring sunday in Washington DC, you will find the following (I cite a friend who recently visited):

Two rows of kids are clapping hands for a group of veterans who pass them by and enter the memorial. The veterans are all on wheelchairs, some with arms or legs amputated, some with oxygen masks. An old army music is on that reminds me of IRIB's music during the war; propaganda music is easy to detect. Some of the kids step forward to shake hands with the veterans while saying, "Thank you for your service." I wonder what these kids see in the dimming eyes of those women and men on wheels: horror of war, or heros to follow. I suspect the second.

Inside the memorial, the veterans scatter in the crowd. People look at them, some stand up for them, some cheer, or pose for photos. 'Honor' is all that can be offered to those veterans. The scene of amputated body parts, monumental columns of the memorial, old medals, death counts, and clapping children all exhale an eerie and scary sense of pride, as if it is crafting a collective identity with all of its visual and emotional cues that can go toward future death counts. I thought a memorial would provoke silence and a sense of shared shame, and no. I am in a 'local attraction' & inside I am shivering. — at National World War II Memorial. (5 photos)

Do Canadians "glorify" the war, as a memorandum to avoid it in the future? Actually they don't! Although, the new conservative government, is working hard to re-write the history, and emphasize Canada's combative role, calling the "peace keeping" image a liberal, lefty one! But this is what Canada takes pride in: "peace keeping". The have, "Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings". And no there are no monuments to "glorify" and "romaticise" war (like those of the Weimars or the Washingtonians)

This is a statue remembering the world war, by Canadians, soldiers returning from the war ... and this is the American version of a memorial; I hope you can see the undertone of each.

I also have to point out, that you often give examples that contradict the argument you begin. For instance, last time, while you were trying to convince me that Americans are wonderful, you pointed out to the 300.000,000 crazy gun owners. And now, as you are trying to argue that the Americans, as a whole, are not warmongers, you point out that in the Sleepy St Antonio (pretty town, I have been there) goes wild over the battle of the Alamo; WHICH was a war of revenge; WHICH in fact confirms the argument I make in this post (have you read this post?) that America is built on massacre, on occupied territory, and THUS is paranoid about its need to defend and offend. You cannot deny what the history of exterminating the aboriginals and slavery has done to the psych of this nation. can you?

Nice talking to you

radius said...

Hi Naj, your observation at the Washington war memorial really sounds as if the visitors will soon all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I guess many capital cities around the world are hot spots for such insane memorial sites, intended to give the impression that war is managable, the fallen heros receive posthume medals, the families come along the cemetry ever Sunday to commemorate dad or grandpa. But I hope that this is not what provides the real long term historical memory, but rather movies like "Full Metal Jacket" or "Good Morning Vietnam" or books like "Catch-22".

My remarks about the Americans I might have been not very clear. I was not talking about any US majority (which I never met). I only tried to make the point that some of most critical, innovative, interesting people in the world are Americans. Those who created the most extraorinary music, the film makers, writers and the scientists of the US: All those are not neo-cons. Its is just an extremely heterogenuous society, and one finds people of any taste there. To be honest, I would have never gone to the war memorial in Wahsington myself. I think I would have be disctracted the same as you were.
regards, Michael

Naj said...

Yes yes America has plenty of interesting folks, but I disagree that the "most" interesting are American.

I think Americans have the power of media, and the hollywood, the second largest industry after their weapon industry, to exert such an image on the world. They also have a larger population; but the proportion of "sensible" is very low, if you ask me.

If you were here, after they caught the Boston bomber, and saw the "blood thirsty" shrieks of cheer in the GO-USA-GO population, you would have shuddered with disgust. This is a fucked up society and I am not going to change my mind--I have seen enough to have come to this conclusion. :)

I would argue that he best philosophers of the past century are German and French, not American.

I would argue that the best musicians of the post-war era are British and Canadian, not American.

I would argue that the most fundamental invention of our history, telephone was also Canadian. By the way, the Canadian Chris Hadfield just finished commanding the repair of the space station (oh Canadarm is also Canadian).

America has a great way of draining the brains from other countries, I grant them that! I grant them the shrewdness to "recruit" and give opportunity to those with great ideas, with innovative thoughts. Yes America does that; but then it also always hijacks the product of those brains, doesn't it? Like it Hijacked Einstein's, for example! Everything just turns into evil when sucked by this giant black hole.

Upon "getting fired" from the fascist health care institute I was in (by the way, that hospital has a track record of acting in draconian ways, as I am told by lawyers who are willing to take my case), I received several other quick offers from America. They do have the means of quickly picking valuable intellectual assets, and if those intellectual assets happen to be in "distress" all the better, isn't it?

But I chose to leave. And I am happy again.

radius said...

Hi Naj, Sure, its definitly better to make a clear cut. And every finish is the start of a new challenge. Whereever this will bring, I wish you good luck. Hopefully we can hear some good news from you soon.
best regards, Michael