I received some spam about six months to a year ago, about a supposed Australian dentist who had written a quite patriotic piece on what it means to be American. It was so pro-right wing American in fact that either the dentist hadn’t spent very much time in Australia, or he wasn’t an Australian dentist.
The spam usually begins like this:
You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.
So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.
The piece then goes on and on ad infinitum about what it means to be American, with the next four paragraphs all beginning with the words “An American is […]”, followed by several paragraphs of American empirialist Christian rhetoric, that only an empirialist Christian American could write.
Two minutes on Google proved that the latter was in fact correct, that it wasn’t an Australian dentist, but an American professor by the name of Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law in Northern Virginia. Mr. Ferrara’s original piece, somewhat less confronting than many of the circulating spam versions, was originally published in the National Review on 25 September 2001, titled What Is An American?.
The debunking can now be found on numerous urban legend clearing sites, yet amazingly enough, it still does the rounds of email and has recently popped up in the blogosphere, five years later. Would people not do a minute of research to clarify the accuracy of the story before posting it? It would seem not.
As an Australian however, the most amazing thing is that few if any Australians would even consider writing such a piece. To think that an Australian would consider America an “embodiment of the human spirit of freedom” is farcical, and if Americans think that countries such as Australia consider America in this way, then this, my friends, is just confirmation of the ignorance of most right wing Americans, and why the rest of the world have such a negative view of America, its arrogance, its confrontational global politics and their eagerness to invade countries which do not agree with them.
The American left at a grass roots level, have still unfortunately a hell of a lot of work to do.
The spam should perhaps be adapted and emailed to everyone as follows:
A global citizen is English or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A global citizen may also be African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.
A global citizen is an atheist, or he could be Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or most likely Muslim, as there are more Muslims in the world than Christians. So if we were to sanctify only one global religion, as America ever so subtley tries to do, then Christianity’s days are seriously numbered.
A global citizen belives in the right of all nations to live prosperously and happily, within the bounds of their own democratically elected government, with the United Nations as the only global enforcer at arms.
A global citizen is generous. Global citizens have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, with humanitarian aid. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms to enable the people to fight against a system of government which Americans did not believe in. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more arms than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Food, health care and understanding would have arguably been a better solution, which would perhaps not have led to such American hatred by some people in this part of the world.
An American does not have to obey the mad ravings of ignorant, ungodly cruel, selfish and greedy men such as George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. Yet they still do. American men are still fooled into giving up their lives to kill innocent people, so that these foolish old men may hold on to power.
An American is free to criticize his government’s officials when they are wrong, yet very few do, for fear of being locked up against American and international law. And although they are free to replace them, by majority vote, the majority vote doesn’t seem to always count.
Global citizens welcome people from all lands, all cultures, all religions, because they are not afraid. They are not afraid that America will cut off their aid, and attempt to enforce global trade agreements which export reactionary laws such as the DMCA, a right to own deadly automatic weapons, and the subtle agregation of church and state. That is because they know they are free to hold to their religion, their beliefs, their history, and laws as each of them choose.
And just as global citizens welcome all, they not only enjoy the best that everyone has to bring, from all over the world, but they do not feel an urgent need to proclaim that they are the best at everything.
Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least, so long as they have something to offer scientifically, such as the nazi rocket scientists from World War II, but not poor uneducated South Americans fleeing from tirmoil and dictatorship. The nation symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed, so long as they have educational qualifications equal of her best scientists.
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. The Iraqi insurgents have given it a pretty good go, and even the North Koreans and North Vietnamiese were pretty successful when their countries were invaded by America. But let’s be honest, America has participated in more global conflict, either directly or indirectly through the supply and sale of arms, throughout the 20th century, than any other nation on the planet. Arms of course which were developed by the educated scientists who were allowed to enter America for this very reason in the first place.
But in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because American governments are not generally known to use discussion, patience or honesty to solve global problems or when dealing with people which they simply just don’t agree with, and are in fact particularly prone to shooting first and lying about the questions afterwards. They are, what most of whom America calls terrorists, refer to as the single most significant threat to the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is scared shitless of what America can and may well do in the global arena.
So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow your government, because that’s generally what they do first. Then those lands too will join the community of America.
And America will welcome them.