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Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
I am your Emperor and you will pay me the Taxes you owe

Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
I am your Emperor. You must support the Realm!

"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion September 10, 2001
Author's Note: I wrote this column on September 10. Back then, usually I was in a rush to post the columns, but for some reason I held off, wanting to edit it one more time. Then the next day happened, and for obvious reasons this column never got sent out. But I don't apologize for it. Every word is true, even if the timing made it unreadable back then.

#60 Land of the Free

“That the King should know our readiness and that our will is good, We hope to build a nation where none before hath stood.”
-Folk saying attributed to First Continental Congress

When it comes to movies, Americans love to root for the good guys. From John Wayne westerns to the Star Wars saga to Indiana Jones, we love to cheer as might and right prevails. Perhaps this penchant comes from our every day lives. The American National Identity is based on being the White Knight, the savior of mankind. Most Americans cite Abraham Lincoln as our greatest president, although they are hard-pressed to say why. “Lincoln won the Civil War and ended Slavery.” They will say proudly. What they might not know is that Lincoln is the first and only president to suspend the Constitution, and in his day he was reviled in such a way to make the most rabid Clinton-haters step back in awe.

It’s like that with many things. During the Cold War, Americans saw the Russians as the Evil Empire, and the case was not hard to make. Stories of the Communists’ Imperialism abounded in Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. These stories were true. However, many Americans ignored their own country’s role in such expansion. In 1898, we fought a war with Spain—just to prove we could. They tried to give up from the word go, but we wanted to show the world we were players on the international scene, and spread our control over the Western Hemisphere. (Remember the Monroe Doctrine?) And while it’s true we wanted to stop the spread of Communism, does anybody really think we weren’t pushing our own agenda of influence and domination? We got mad at the Russians for invading Afghanistan, but ask the Vietnamese what it feels like to have a 400-pound gorilla come in and set up shop when it’s not wanted. Or for that matter, ask Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Cuba, or even Iraq what it’s like. We had “good” reasons to invade all of those countries, but wouldn’t the Russians have felt the same way? We are immensely critical of Russia and China for fighting with renegade republics Chechnya and Taiwan, while conveniently ignoring the fact that we split our country apart in order to keep some renegade provinces.

Speaking of China, there were a fair number of U.S. lawmakers recently who were quite miffed that Beijing got the ’08 Olympics. It seems our Congressmen felt a country with as poor a human rights record as the Chinese should not be rewarded with the ultimate international prize. This is certainly true, but once again, the U.S. record against minorities was ignored. And before you say all of that is ancient history, consider this: While slavery was abolished in 1863, legally sanctioned discrimination continued into the 1950s, and farther than that in the South. In the 1940s, Americans of Japanese descent were interred in concentration camps until the end of the war. Finally, until 1973, every single treaty the United States government signed with Native Americans was broken. Who do you think hosted the most Olympic Games—by far—in the 20th Century? I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t Cuba.

I don’t point out these examples to argue that America is as guilty as others are in atrocities in our history, but to simply point out that our rose-colored view of history is flawed. This is never truer than in our country’s origins. It is a popular fiction taught in American schools that General Washington and his scrappy band of freedom-loving patriots persevered and won the war. While Washington won some battles, he certainly did not win the war. In fact, Britain did not lose the war. They quit. If you don’t believe me, jump forward to 1812, when the Brits ran roughshod over us—even burning the White House—and it took two and a half years to convince them this was a bad idea. Back in the Revolutionary War, though, Britain simply got tired and went home. The real question is why England stopped fighting.

A better way to gage public opinion in 1780s England—rather than idyllic American history books—is to look at the newspapers published in Britain during the war. The public was upset, and demanded an end to the hostilities. Nary a word was written about Washington and Cornwallis. What the British public was concerned about was Terrorism. Yes, Terrorism. It seems the U.S. Navy seized upon the idea of pirating British merchant vessels, taking their cargo, and most often killing the crew and throwing them over the sides in the bargain. This plan proved more effective than anything the American Army did. People will put up with a lot of hassle for a war effort. But when their economic way of life is threatened, and their countrymen are slaughtered to boot, most folks draw the line. The British public was no different. Angered by the tremendous loss of revenue and loss of life, Brits turned against the war. Fighting an unpopular war is never a good strategy (ask LBJ), and King George III and Parliament had little choice but to quit fighting, after securing the promise that America would quit pirating their ships and killing their people. And just like that, we got ourselves a country.

Now, I’ve heard and read many a historian claim that the Revolutionary War involved extraordinary circumstances, that Americans were fighting for freedom and this outweighed the bad done in freedom’s name. I’m not going to argue that. But consider: most of the terrorists operating today think that they fight for freedom, that their cause is just, and worth the abominations committed for their cause. America was born in blood, and our "Patriots" were England's terrorists.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, but forget the ones we don’t like. Something to think about the next time you pledge one nation under God.

September 10, 2001


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