[ Editor’s Note: This is another Gordon legacy piece, so it was worth the Saturday afternoon layout; one of the discoveries being that they sprayed DDT on kids at the swimming pool, when mosquitoes don’t live there.
No one who wants a commercial career will publish stuff like this, as blackballing is so easy. Gordon started, if I remember the details correctly, as an AOL chat room monitor. Those were the days of 300-baud modems, and a half-hour wait to get a connection.
He told me years ago how they threw a party when they broke 100 reads on the first Military forum article. Those were the days when a lot more WWII guys were still around, and writing online became a treatment for the untreated PTSD guys, and still is to an extent.
We have outlasted most. When we look back on who was who in the post 9-11 days, not many are left who have not been exposed. Our main detractor has to pay Google to be on the first page of the Veterans Today search, so we consider we must be doing something good.
Being on The Debate with Ed Peck was a trip. I hope we can still be doing this when we are 89. We will be even more dangerous then. We are still waiting for a thank-you card from Trump, and offers to be on his National Security Advisory staff for letting him know there are no FEMA camps. “There just ain’t no end to doin good!” – Little Rascals… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … February 23, 2017 –
For those not tired of the aftermath of the 2016 American election and the first 30 days of the Trump presidency, this missive is not intended. For the rest of us, inundated with Trump’s odd version of a fictional reality and the insanity of the very fake news, and Trump is so right on this, the tit for tat battle going on, eating away our time, our lives, is fake at every turn, fake news, fake president, fake reality, fake everything.
The major fallout is going to be what the world sees and thinks of the US. After decades of aggressive wars and drone campaigns, no one trusts America that keeps up on things. Trump is just screaming out why so nobody misses it, but the reality of American insanity has been there all along.
For those who think this is a new phenomenon, that somehow millions of Americans have simply lost their minds, that devout “Christians” suddenly decide to support a self-confessed serial philanderer and con man to have his “finger on the nuclear button,” I beg to differ.
America is a land of immigrants, even the “Indians” came here over a land bridge or so we are told, and built communities 10,000 years ago, 4000 years before Earth was created, according to Trump. The rest of us came here in waves of immigration, escaping persecution, or as is too often the case, looking for a chance to move up the food chain and start persecuting others.
For the Trump family it began as human trafficking or as the current president refers to it, “running ‘sporting ladies.’” At this point I will get a bit auto-biographical, as America is the sum of its origins, each of us carry the weight of centuries.
I grew up in Detroit, son of an auto worker, former union organizer, former or not-so-former communist. Back during the 1930s, workers in Detroit were one of two political leanings, Communist or Fascist, and either backed Stalin or Hitler.
Factories were closed, President Roosevelt was stifled by “conservatives” in his attempt to feed the starving and get the economy going, and the real government was a mix of organized crime and a military occupation force of National Guard and police, both of whom served the factory owners.
This is the reality of America, this is the reality of Detroit, a town of racism, lynchings and armed confrontations between labor leaders and the coalition of Mafia/Purple Gang thugs and National Guard who sought to keep wages down and murder anyone who stood against them.
My family came to Detroit in 1780, the first English speaking family there, setting up a fur trading cabin at the confluence of the Detroit and Rouge Rivers is what had been a French city. This was Alexander Duff, second son of Scottish Earl.
Leaving Scotland was much the rage, as families there, particularly the MacDuffs, who controlled about 30% of Scotland, had divided into factions, either collaborating with or fighting against British occupation.
MacDuffs had become powerful first importing wine from Portugal and then by making grain alcohol which they flavored in the old wine barrels made at the family cooperage in Cullen. The beverage was called “Whisky” and was made in Dufftown, and shipped around the world from the port of MacDuff, outside Banff.
Many of the clans were on both sides of Culloden, the end of the Jacobite Rebellion that lasted from 1745 to 1747. To our family, here and in Scotland, it was like it was yesterday.
Half of the MacDuffs joined the British and married into the Germanic royal family, legitimizing their rule of Scotland supposedly while others fled to Ireland or Lower Canada, and Detroit at that time was very much “Lower Canada.”
When the Americans came, Alexander Duff fled to Canada, establishing the City of Windsor, Ontario. The family home, Duff House, still stands on the Detroit River, the oldest building in Ontario.
The real family, now that’s something else. Moving up a century, my grandfather, who owned a meat packing company, died in 1910, leaving his family penniless. My grandmother was a German immigrant who came over with her brothers, Gustav and Josef Lehmann, from Posen. My father, when he was old enough, went to work for Josef, known then as “Legs Lehmann,” enforcer for Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang.
With a family background in the liquor business, running “booze” across from Canada to Detroit in speed boats during prohibition and getting in gun fights with police and customs agents was pretty much like life in Scotland fighting with or for the British.
On my mother’s side, folks had been here for some time, the Smiths coming from England in the late 1600s, to first Virginia then into Kentucky in the 1700s. The Magerts were from Switzerland and came to America in the early 1700s, wealthy farmers for a while at least.
By the time my mother was born, in the mining camp of Glomar, outside Hazard, Kentucky, the family business was coal mining on the poor end, for my mother a life without shoes and even food, until she moved north to find work in a war plant in Detroit in 1942.
This is the America I grew up in, the City of Detroit, a town that was African American, having enjoyed an influx of immigration from the South during the war years, but also a town that enjoyed an equal influx of whites from the South, equally uneducated, equally backward and in many cases venomously angry.
That white anger carried over from the Civil War, not so much the end of slavery or even the supposed exaltation of the “black race” over whites under “reconstruction” after the assassination of President Lincoln. But the South was torn apart, its culture destroyed, denigrated and generations of economic repression kept the South impoverished until reindustrialization began in the 1960s and later.
Those that came up from the South during my childhood were often illiterate, spoke a version of English we barely understood, a backward and violent people. These were the people who, starting in 1865, settled much of the Red State phenomenon of today. This is the real reason for fanatical Christian Evangelism, for anti-government movements, for race hatred and distrust of science and education.
The anger of Trump’s “white America” is rooted in a century of abuse very much at the hands of the powerful banking families of America’s Northeast and their partners in the City of London, the square mile along the Thames where to some extent the world is still “managed” from today.
That anger, that flowed from the American South, into the Midwest and the Rockies, was directed at the East Coast elites, then at African Americans, the former slaves now mistakenly characterized as “masters,” and eventually at the Jews.
Hatred of nearly anyone became the norm, particularly immigrants, the Irish, the Germans and the Scandinavians, who didn’t “fit in.” Then it was the influx of Eastern Europeans, some of whom actually were Jews.
The primary threat became Catholicism and later the newer revealed religion, Mormonism, leading to decades of violence and warfare while the nation first tore itself apart in a Civil War and later in a war against the American Indians who resisted ethnic cleansing quite vigorously.
During the 2nd half of the 20th Century, America began a massive move to cities and then later suburbs and cities crumbled into chaos and decay. That influx into cities and suburbs from the century old radicalization and, hoping not to abuse the term, “Talibanization” that followed the Civil War, carried with it the politics, the prejudice, the religious extremism and the history of violence that had grown up on the American frontiers.
With it came a century old hatred of “elites,” distrust of education and science that, and this one is going to be tough to accept, created an odd duality as the white rural poor moved up the social and economic ladder.
Thus, today in America, you have a class of well-established and “educated” who enjoy economic success and have business acumen but who distrust “professionals” in areas like medicine, law and education, who hate science, distrust all government and still cling to the primitive “frontier” religion of snake handling, faith healing and bizarre heretical Christian prophesies fabricated during the 1800s.
Surrounding most American cities, dotting the suburbs and countryside, are “megachurches,” some seating up to 20,000, whose preachings have little to do with Christianity and much to do with extremist politics, conspiracy theories and in some cases virulent race hatred.
To this nearly 80 million Americans, there are no “facts,” only beliefs. To many, their religion is a gateway to a fantasy world that deeply parallels the life of the classic paranoid, a world of pure black and white, good and bad, with no personal responsibility, no concern for ethics and no qualitative issues of right and wrong.
Primitive cultural triggers have left this group fodder for cynical and clever manipulators who have spent millions guiding the fear and anger of this semi-backward virtual army of “believers” into a political block that serves corporate interests.
Where, on America’s coasts, the social and political movements have sought an end to traditional hatreds and stressed political equality and the limitation of rule by the feudal/corporate classes, America’s center has gone quite the opposite.
To the followers of John Stuart Mill, the “utilitarians,” failing to accept the economy at hand, that guiding those who have no wish for truth, who have no desire for social advancement, into a position that allows a very real return to the colonial/feudal model that globalization represents, would be criminal.
Thus, those who thrive on fear and hatred and fed on fear and hatred. Those taught to hate science can be told vaccinations cause autism. The next step is to convince those who hate science that tetanus, diphtheria and polio are “normal childhood diseases.”
Measles is now recurring in the US as a “harmless disease” though it killed 2.6 million in 1980 worldwide, down to less than 200,000 with the advent of vaccinations. These facts are childishly easy to confirm but believers never confirm anything.
This is the danger faced in the US, not just Trump, an unstable individual who says he loves nuclear war, earning the distrust of friends and enemies alike and, with it, a vast majority of Americans as well.
Similarly, global warming denialism easily traces to think tanks hired by the coal lobby in the 1980s, to the Koch Brothers, who profit off pollution and who spent millions on junk science and “flat earth” propagandists. But it goes further, the same public for years fought against restrictions on cigarette smoking when the same think tanks that deny global warming also said those who claimed smoking caused cancer were “irresponsible.”
A generation of Americans died because of this. America’s liquor lobby for decades kept down enforcement against drunk driving and killed tens of thousands each year, maiming millions over the decades.
Use of DDT and other pesticides killed off America’s bee population and other insects and reduced the bird population by 80%, while the logging industry stripped much of the Pacific Northwest, even clear-cutting ancient redwoods and selling them to Japan.
The nuclear industry built plants everywhere, most leak radiation. Then it was made illegal to report radiation leaks, a standard ploy, one as with these others, supported by anti-government “believers” who began getting all information through their religious leaders who, oddly enough, got their marching orders from Washington think tanks run by financial criminals and hedge fund conmen.
The current battles being lost today under Trump and the “know-nothing” rule aren’t just things like wages and working conditions. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is now moving to allow toxic contaminant levels in drinking water, including class 1 carcinogens, to reach deadly levels, in order to help relieve pressure on industry, he says.
Similarly, cancer causing toxins are now being listed as “harmless” based on altered and censored reports, now allowed under Trump executive orders that came out his first day in office. A generation faces shortened lives because of this, supported by 80 million Americans who believe Jesus will save them from cancer.
I could go on forever, but it is key to know that little of this is new. Fooling people has been around for some time, as we see from this quote from Abraham Lincoln, which we aren’t even sure Lincoln said, but we wish he did:
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” You certainly can fool some of the people all of the time, about 80 million of them.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”