True or False: “We Are All Responsible” by Cameron Salisbury

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by Cameron Salisbury
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
March 15, 2010

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It’s happened again.  Another well meaning soul insisting that EveryOne is to blame for the mess that engulfs the U.S. politically, militarily and economically because in our political system, the country gets what it votes for.  Therefore, ‘we are all responsible.’

Some may get their kicks from an existential guilt trip, but please count me out.

First, we almost never get what we think we voted for.  Just a few examples: Remember George W. saying he’d be a ‘uniter, not a divider’?  Before the vote he also said yes to more social programs, lower taxes and a balanced budget.  Franklin Roosevelt said he’d keep the U.S. out of foreign wars and Richard Nixon said he’d end the war in Viet Nam.

Before election day, voters are bombarded with ads, negative and positive, and promises, some vague, some not.  Complicating the process is the media which prefers sound bites to substance.  Voters negotiate the mine field and cast their ballots for the person who does the best job of convincing them that he or she will fulfill their fantasy.

Every few years we go to the polls and pin our hopes on a Rorschach ink blot shaped like a person.

Don’t blame me for this.

Tens of millions of us had a lot to say, and we said it over and over, both in print and in phone calls to Congress, before our representatives opted to ignore our furious dissension and approved the Wall Street bailout. That act alone has been regarded by some as prima fascia evidence that American citizens are voiceless shadows in a mythical democracy.

Personally, I don’t think I contributed to the problem.

We the people voted in record numbers for someone different, a self-proclaimed agent of change, and Barack Obama became president.  Who is responsible for the disappointment that he has been to many?  We elected him to change the way Washington behaves and he showed every indication that he believed he could.  I’m not sure that he is responsible, either.

And I’m certainly not.

In the name of the U.S., atrocities have been and are being committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the military and by an increasing number of heavily armed delinquents known as contractors who are accountable to no one. Congress has attempted to reign in the cowboys with what appears to be only marginal success.

The atrocities are both passive, as when sanctions result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children, and active, as when Iraqi wedding parties are incinerated by drones.  Obama is unable – though, I’m convinced, not unwilling – to reduce the out-of-control military and its over-the-top budget.  The armed forces are a nation unto themselves and they usurp nearly 50 cents of every one of our tax dollars.

Should you and I shoulder the blame?  If you believe that you are morally responsible,   aren’t you are morally obligated to stop paying taxes?  Let’s see a show of hands for everyone willing to do this.

We have a Supreme Court that says it’s just fine for corporations anywhere in the world to buy a U.S. election.  We have lobbying groups that keep us embroiled in Middle East politics, that fight health care reform tooth and nail, that keep the financial sector fat and happy while tens of thousands lose their jobs and line up at food banks.  We have a cadre of powerful, unelected advisors built into the system, people like Karl Rove, Rahm Emanuel and all of K Street.

I didn’t cause any of this.  Did you?

Many people have responded to the dysfunction in Washington by joining groups like the Tea Party and openly oppose the influential, often appointed, government personnel that citizens have been stuck with. Since most such groups are ignored by the thumb-sucking media, their influence spreads wirelessly. At least for now. Corporations are doing their level best to wrangle control of communication space, too.

OK.  ‘Fess up, you who are accountable.  Is this your fault?  If yes, then fix it.

The ‘We’re all responsible’ group never fails to bring up Nazi Germany.

To which I reply:  What is your point?

Stories still surface, over 60 years later, of German civilians with the power to assist the persecuted who did just that.  There is no way of knowing how many sympathizers had no power to intervene.  But we do know that Germany in the latter 1930s and 1940s was run by thugs who had a heavily armed state at their disposal.  Dissent became a capital offense. During the war, the allies bombed much of Germany into rubble, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. The German population paid dearly for the actions of their leaders.

Were they all responsible?

Although most United States citizens were far distant from the corporate-lobbyist coup, we are held accountable for Washington’s actions.  To the 9/11 terrorists, the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans were in no way responsible for U.S. policy in the Middle East was strictly a footnote.  They seemed to have entirely missed the fine print that explained the distinction between wealthy lobbying groups that promote war in the Middle East and the majority who don’t want it.  Or maybe the murderously alienated just don’t care.

Similarly, Amanda Knox is in jail in Italy, one of the most unlikely convicts in history, most probably in retaliation for homicidal actions committed in Italy by an unrepentant American military.

The fact that we will be held to account for actions committed by others is incentive enough to take action.  But we can’t do it by letting the perps off the hook and claiming responsibility ourselves.

What should we do?  Here are some ideas.

–Washington, D.C., should be closed down and its functions decentralized.  All legislators should be required to stay in the districts that elected them and use modern communications to interface with others.  This would remind the elected on a daily basis that their neighbors hired them.  It would have the added benefit of making the lives of lobbyists significantly more difficult.  Tell Michael Moore to investigate the possibility.

– Blame the right people.  Call a war criminal a war criminal and insist on prosecution or extradition for one and all.  Pretend like the Nuremberg trials really mattered.   Support Cindy Sheehan.

– Recognize the class warfare happening in America right now and insist that the casualties be treated like those in any other war, with limitless subsidies for those in the trenches: the unemployed, the undereducated, the uninsured, the debt vassals, the single parents.

–Support open media.  Contribute to the Real News Network and PBS as well as to web sites like this one.

–Join protests against the military and the excesses of the police state, like brutality and tasers, while we still can.

And most of all:  Stop claiming responsibility for criminal acts over which we had no control and put the blame where it belongs.  Stop giving the perps a free ride on our conscience.  They should be driven out of town and into jail by our outrage, not coddled by our narcissism.

We should not be willing to shoulder blame for criminal activity committed, domestically and abroad, without our consent. The fact that we live in the U.S. is not evidence of guilt.

If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.


We Are All Accountable By Timothy V. Gatto

Noam Chomsky on Obama’s Foreign Policy, His Own History of Activism, and the Importance of Speaking Out

American Democracy: No More Illusions by Sean Fenley

The Myth of the Good War: America in World War II by Jacques R. Pauwels + Slaughterhouse-Five

14 thoughts on “True or False: “We Are All Responsible” by Cameron Salisbury

  1. Pingback: Depleted Uranium: A War Crime Within a War Crime By William Bowles | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Depleted Uranium: A War Crime Within a War Crime By William Bowles « Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: Afghanistan: Anyone For Truth? + A fatherless Afghan boy remembers Iraq Memorial to Life « Dandelion Salad

  4. Obama, the saviour, was just another corporate pawn. I wrote article after article about how he was supported by the same corporate shills that got Bush elected, but no, everyone decided to “follow the yellow brick road”.

    Keep supporting corporate America and you are responsible. As far as ICH, I haven’t has my work published there in months. Keep dreaming that we are not responsible. If we are not responsible, we are accountable. Y\Just put your heasd in the sand and scream “It’s not my fault!”.

    Unfortunatly, it’s all our fault.

  5. Well, that’s an epic rant deserving of an epic dissection, we don’t have time just now for epics.

    But a few remarks:
    No, not every citizen is responsible, only those who were and remain complicit, and who otherwise failed to dissent. Leaving aside soldiers who violated their responsibilities, and political leaders who gloat over their warcrimes with impunity, the question of the public’s complicity is complex, yet often obvious.

    Consider, for example all who voted for McCain and almost won, when McCain indeed made clear exactly the expansions of wars he intended to implement.

    There is no guilt unless you’re guilty. There were and remain legal and moral matters radiating throughout society in this insane conflict, much of which has been met not only with avoidance and apathy, but with blatant complicity.

    No this is not nazi Germany, antiwar activists in the US are not usually shot point-blank like kent State, that’s true. We claim to carry out these wars in support of democracy and free speech we enjoy.

    Some indeed marched by the millions before the invasion, that movement seemed to evaporate, leaving a handful of Code Pink to carry the torch for a decade.

    We had a situation of admitted warcrimes, the entire basis for the invasion/occupation shown to be based in lies at the executive level. Bills were put forth to bring justice to the perpetrators who remained brazen about their acts. Some citizens worked overtime to spread the word, but the public failed to materialize.

    Lacking any demand from their constituents, congress shot down and shelved the bills, and the congressional leaders responsible were re-elected.

    This is a case of direct and wilfull complicity by the public, a complete failure by the people to exercise their basic legal option to impact policy. You didn’t have to march in front of dogs and hoses, you just had to call your representative!

    Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Law Professor:
    “the most successful democracy in history is just…about to see war crimes, do nothing about it. And that’s an indictment not just of George Bush and his administration. It’s the indictment of all of us if we walk away from a clear war crime.

    I think the public is quite aware of what they’re doing, the leaders are not as deceptive as it seems. The people do have the power to dissent if they cared to. Indeed Nixon was besieged and terrified by mass opposition to his escalations.

    There is much to say, but seeing how this ‘grass roots’ tea-party is taking over the news and already twisted bills into contortions, it seems this myth that people are powerless and ignorant is a disproved excuse for apathy.

    Admit the people don’t care about vast crimes of war committed in their names by the military they bought and paid for. But claim they are powerless to effect change in matters of national crimes, and that their votes for war with Malice aforethought or even passive failure to dissent doesn’t render them by now culpable, negligent & responsible??

    Maddow says it best: BULLPUCKEY!

  6. Great article by Cameron.
    Tim Gatto is of the Informationclearinghouse crowd and anyone that reads there, if they have any smarts, quickly sees that the American haters congregate there. Not that its a bad site, it just has a lot of people who are just waiting to pounce on any American that comments there. It quickly became the “thing” to do, to bash ALL Americans and blame every one of them, no matter that there are millions in America trying to do whatever they can in peaceful ways to protest and change this tight hold the corporations have over most congress people.
    And the sad thing about ICH, it used to be a neat place to go, when there was actually people there with great ideas, instead of bashers and judgers. It didn’t help that one of the site owners was persistently on the comment boards using many different names. I think other people figured it out too. It just got weird there, and Tim Gatto is a big fan there and I really think when people hang out at places like that too much, it can rub off, and becomes easy to scapegoat (kind of like how the muslims get scapegoated). I found over time that many, like Gatto, really don’t have any ideas what to do. Their idea of “doing something” is writing reams of words of hate towards all of us “dumbed down” Americans. It does not help in any way. In fact it would be a turn off to anyone just waking up and starting to research.

    This was a very needed article. I don’t completely agree with everything, but that is beside the point.

    • Are “American haters” the same as the “blame America First” Ingraham/OReilley/Coulter counter-antiwar canard?

      The problem with ICH forums is that Tom needs a full time assistant to moderate them. The most activist participants seem to be implants from some anti-Semitic pro-jihadist cult who inevitably blames it all on the jews.

      How else would we find out that Ashkenazi jews are actually descendants of ‘Khazars’ hence their genetic propensity for residing at the root of all evil (i.e. they are apparrently true Aryans roaming some Russian Steppe drinking horse-blood, same Aryans whom Hitler so idealized? So, like which is it, are jews genetically deranged because they are semites or because they are actually white?).

      Tom of ICH is definitely NOT among the guilty for the complicity of the amerigoon populace in these US wars of aggression, he’s done more to singlehandedly educate the public than any 20 states of carnivorous corporate tea-party ‘activists’.

      Gatto’s outrage in his article as admirable. Remember, he has to make up for a million complicit warmongers (as well as apparently for Cameron Salisbury, who apparently thinks the populace should sooner try to dissolve the constitution & morph the feds into state franchises than put practical pressure on them to resist these miserable illegal military deployments).

      • Sorry, I don’t agree that Tom is somehow a saint over other Americans, and the author of this article makes a very good point at the end…by everyone guilty no one is. People who are leaders have a special responsibility because they are in positions of power. Just cutting and pasting other people’s articles is in no way “activism”. Hell, I and millions of others do that too. And YES the site owner, whether it is tom or someone else does disturb the boards using many names, I have proof, and will keep the proof until I deem I am no longer in danger of harrassment. A lot of people quit the site because they are unsure of the intentions there.

        They seem to think once the American people are starving, the women being raped, etc etc….(from their own mouths) that this will be justice. The thing they forget is that those in power, via corporations and banking, are already set up elsewhere. It won’t stop until you bring those people down. Killing Americans, raping their women and children, and starving them won’t make the world a better place. It just won’t. Besides that, another point the author could have brought up, is that if we start pointing fingers at the poor and working people, then it would only be just to go after all the people of China, which has been funding the wars. You could also include all of Europe and Canada and other western nations. Why does there always have to be a scape goat (the muslims) and only ONE nation that is the bad guy? Its WWII all over again. This time, after the big push for more convergence of power into less hands, they will pin the cleanup on the American people. Who will be next? We have to zero in on those most responsible, which includes All three branches of Government (the people in them, that is), Corporations (specifically, military contractors, telecommunications, Oil, and a myriad of others that profit from wars), the media, Central banking and the many Families that run these banking cartels which seem to keep their names and faces invisible from public scrutiny, and the many think-tanks and CFR and PNAC.

        I would not even bother with the “anti-semitic” stuff (or the “jihad” garbage…which most americans do not even know what jihad is). There is no way to tell what the intentions are by commenters doing this. Its better to go for the policy of any nation or organization, and finding ways to actually organize without the authorities disrupting and infiltrating.

        • Well you know, a lot of people are pissed and filled with contempt Forums allow them to vent, from wherever in the world. ICH rebroadcasts news, that’s why it’s a Clearinghouse.

          Those forums are a problem for me, many wasted hours with maniacs, some but little progress (I got them to admit jews aren’t genetically bad, for like a minute…). But the site is a genuine eye-opener to the uninitiated, about the best (after DS!). I never jived with the unmediated discussions, but then there’s the free speech element perhaps? He must have his reasons.

          I wouldn’t start constructing conspiracies about Tom Feely, he’s likely suffered far greater threats for his hard work than harassment by angry implants on his unaudited forum.

          I too retired from the site, there was the preaching to the choir and depressing element, I get it by now. But the articles are consistently intense, intelligent and revelationary. I’d not get hung up on the discussions.

        • And, I can add, that if it’s really news (or even fodder for interesting discussions) you’ll find it right here on Dandelion Salad! And the bad news will be balanced by beautiful pictures of ripening tomatoes, music and every link to anything you ever needed to know. You picked the right spot!

        • Thank you, Natureboy, you’re too sweet. With all the news of death and destruction the least I can do is make the blog look pretty and throw in some music videos every now and again.

        • ICH is one of favorite websites, I “borrow” articles there all the time through Tom’s copyleft policy on original stories. In fact, I was inspired to start blogging after going to his site almost 5 yrs ago.

  7. Yes, Obama is unwilling. Stop believing in Obama the Secret Progressive. Believe in the Easter Bunny if you want to believe in a silly fairy story, or choose some other relatively harmless delusion, but whatever you do, STOP believing in Obama the Secret Progressive.

  8. Pingback: We Are All Accountable By Timothy V. Gatto « Dandelion Salad

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