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Never Having To Apologize: An Imperial Mentality


It must be nice going though life never feeling you have to apologize. I know people like this. They are always right. They are extremely narcissistic. They never do harm to others, are never insensitive, and therefore never have to apologize for their actions. They never have to say: "Sorry, I was wrong to do that." OR, "I am sorry, I was thinking only of myself and was insensitive to your needs." They are often impervious to whatever injustices they may commit in life and generally go through life oblivious to the impact of their actions on others.

"Joe the Plumber," the latest media star brought to prominence by John MC Cain, didn’t want to talk about the" small issues." He said we should "never apologize for America." Sounding like someone wired directly to FOX News, Joe said we "liberated" Iraq and brought them "freedom." Nothing to apologize for. This is an example of the imperial mentality par excellence, and it is found pretty much everywhere in America, certainly not just in the working class. You can find it in both political parties and in all classes.

Approximately 5 million Iraqi refugees wander the world homeless, but America has nothing to apologize for. Over a million Iraqi’s killed -nothing to apologize for. A humanitarian disaster ?-Nothing to apologize for. Most Arabs believe America just wants Iraqi oil. So? Nothing to apologize for there. Every day new news reports come out of Afghanistan about so many civilians being killed by American bombing raids. Nothing to apologize for. Abu Graib, Guantanamo, "water-boarding" -nothing to apologize for. Hiroshima? Nothing to apologize for.

We are a people and a nation that never does wrong, that never commits injustices, so we have nothing to apologize for. Like a narcissist we only see our own self-interests, and they are the only interest that really count. Although the rest of the world thinks the US is the greatest threat to peace, that we have become arrogant, we have nothing to apologize for. The jingoism found in "Joe the Plumbers" comments is a form of narcissism writ large. It is linked to the militarization of American society and provides a never ending rationalization for American violence. If you want to see an example of it in its most corrosive and ugly form turn on FOX NEWS anytime of the day.

Of course, the US is not alone in suffering from this short sighted imperial mentality that says: ‘ I can do no wrong’. In his latest book of essays, THE AGE of THE WARRIOR(2008), Robert Fisk talks about the big mistake made by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and a former High Commissioner for Human Rights. Fisk writes: "She made a big mistake. She dared to criticize Israel. She suggested -horror of horrors -that ‘the root cause of the Arab -Israeli conflict is the occupation’. Now whoah there a moment. Mary! ‘Occupation’? Isn’t that a little bit anti-Israeli. Are you really suggesting that the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel, its use of extrajudicial executions against Palestinian gunmen, the Israeli gunning down of schoolboy stone throwers, the wholesale theft of Arab land to build homes for Jews , is in some way wrong?" (p.129)

Fisk notes how sympathy for the victims of Israel, people who think that the Palestinians are getting a raw deal, is often translated into accusations of "anti-semitism." Since Israel can do no wrong (ask VP candidate Joe Biden) and since there is no need to criticize and no need to ever apologize, it must be prejudice that motivates the criticism.

Let’s face it, the same thing happens to critics of American policy in the Middle East who may have sympathy for the Iraqi people who have suffered immensely as a result of the illegal and aggressive American war-and who openly say that the war is a crime against humanity – they are called "anti-American."

But then again there are those of us who believe that torture, aggressive war, and the bombing of civilians should be "anti-American." Somehow we weren’t properly socialized to believe that "America Never Needs to Apologize", that American violence is always benevolent, and that it is without fault on the world stage. Like our media and intellectual elites, we are expected to sit silently in approval as they bomb countless children, women and men into their graves. Nothing to apologize for???

History will judge us differently.

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