The American Way
By Jason Miller
28 September, 2006
indoctrination by a vast corporate media complex has convinced many
that the United States of America is an exceptional nation. Charged
with the sacred duty of preserving Pax Americana, the United States
is purported to be the embodiment of the ideals of truth, justice and
liberty for all.
Before making firm intellectual
commitment to such pleasant fictions, consider these questions:
Why is it that virtually
every liberal or progressive proposal for socioeconomic or political
change in the United States is still-born, or on the rare occasions
it survives the birthing process, it is beaten into submission by a
And why have virtually all
crusaders for progressive causes in the “land of the free”
wound up imprisoned (i.e. Eugene Debs), deported (Emma Goldman), or
For a nation that Thomas
Paine, the intellectual catalyst of the American Revolution, envisioned
as “an asylum for mankind”, the United States has not been
very hospitable to dissent or dissidents. How can this be?
A simple summation of a highly
complex answer is that powerful reactionary forces are consistently
poised to suppress those who dare to challenge the tyranny of the de
facto aristocracy and corporatocracy. And they have an extraordinary
propaganda machine known as the mainstream media to sustain the myth
that the United States is a nation governed by and for “We the
One can readily find multiple
examples of other governments and nations guilty of heinous crimes against
humanity, but with a foreign policy that has resulted in the annihilation
of millions of civilians, the United States is as malevolent as some
of history’s most despicable empires. And the “bastion of
human rights” has a highly questionable track record domestically
too. Ask Native Americans and Blacks how their ancestors fared in a
nation populated largely by self-professed Christians and ostensibly
governed as a constitutional republic.
It HAS happened here
Tragically, the forces of
avarice, militarism, nationalism, and lust for power have all but extinguished
the bright illumination cast by those amongst the Founding Fathers who
were deeply influenced by the Age of Enlightenment. Despite its military
and technological prowess, the United States is awash in ignorance,
superstition, repression, and fear reminiscent of the Dark Ages.
Holding the reins guiding
the world’s sole remaining super-power, the United States’
ruling elite have seized (or perhaps created) a ripe opportunity. Preying
on ignorance and fear, they have convinced many amongst the masses to
sell their souls for the “security” of fascist and corporate
Fascism is multi-faceted
and has been defined in a multitude of ways. However, Wikipedia provides
a simple and succinct summary of fascism’s widely accepted defining
Fascism is associated by
many scholars with one or more of the following characteristics: a very
high degree of nationalism,
a powerful, dictatorial
leader who portrays the nation,
as superior to the individuals or groups composing it.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sinclair Lewis’ prediction has come
true. And despite desperate propagandistic attempts to preserve the
false cloak of humanitarianism, the Bush Regime is overtly displaying
the innate savagery and predatory nature of the American Empire, Inc.
In the United States’
version of a fascist state, the flag and those who mindlessly Pledge
Allegiance have become nearly ubiquitous. The so-called “Patriot
Act” has severely diminished civil liberties yet is widely accepted
as necessary to preserve the security of “our nation”. Two
consecutive elections (each of which denied US citizens the opportunity
to truly influence the outcome) “catapulted” a morally and
intellectually bankrupt man into the role of “leader of the free
world”. Natural disasters occur and thousands of human beings
are left to suffer and die. Imperial wars cost hundreds of thousands
of lives, plunge the nation further into fiscal and moral bankruptcy,
and strain military personnel beyond their limits. The Decider and company
continue greedily consolidating power to elevate Bush to the position
of a unitary executive. And thanks to the zealous efforts of the Bush
Regime, the widening wealth gap and deep cuts to federal social programs
are enabling some Developing Nations to surpass the United States in
areas such as education and health care.
Corporatism and its evil
With the rise of economic
corporatism, the line between corporations and the federal government
has blurred significantly. Dick Cheney is one of many key government
officials who seamlessly slide between the private and public sector,
closing the door on neither. In a blatantly criminal example, this “revolving
door” has enabled Halliburton to win no-bid contracts and defraud
tax-payers of billions of dollars. Intense lobbying efforts, large campaign
donations, and the manipulation of Congresspeople with promises to create
(or threats to eliminate) jobs ensure that corporate interests prevail
in the public arena. And with $600 billion of public money going toward
military spending each year, corporate defense contractors have become
the pushers for a nation addicted to war.
How did corporations become
Germinating in the 19th Century,
the legal concept of corporate personhood sank deep roots into the rich
soil of predacious capitalism in the United States. Sheltered by the
validation of the Supreme Court and the fierce protection of the ruling
elite, corporate personhood has grown to Sequoia-like proportions. Bestowed
with many of the legal rights of a human being yet lacking human encumbrances
or limitations such as conscience, fear, and mortality, corporations
are bastions from which acquisitive and malevolent individuals can commit
egregious crimes with virtual impunity.
There are many examples of
corporations that often abuse their power, put profits ahead of human
welfare and the environment, and wield undue influence over public policy.
Shall we consider one such
“Have a Coke and a
Smile and Shut the Fuck Up”
Coca Cola is as much a part
of the American Way as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. What could
be more wonderful than an American icon producing a refreshing soft
drink recognized by 94% of the world’s population?
Remember some of Coke’s
I’d like to buy the
world a Coke
Coke adds life.
Coke is it.
(Yes, those are but a few
of the taglines that Madison Avenue has seared into your cerebrum).
Despite some recent “hiccups”,
the soft drink leviathan cruised across the 2005 finish line with annual
revenues of $23.1 billion and a net income of nearly $5 billion. So
major investors, corporate executives, supporters, and Coca Cola addicts
can truly “Have a Coke and a smile.”
It’s not a party for
Unfortunately, there are
many people around the world who are not smiling with them. A campaign
to Stop Killer Coke
has gathered so much momentum that Coke spent $2.4 billion in advertising
last year. To counter the exposure of the hideous truths behind the
hallowed “Coke lore”, Coca Cola has increased its advertising
expenditures by 30% since 2004.
With animated polar bears
and Kris Kringle giving them the thumbs up while merrily downing their
noxious concoction, how can Coke lose?
Hopefully enough people will
awaken to reality and stop drinking Coca Cola beverages until it begins
producing and marketing healthier products in an ethical way.
And what are some of these
ugly truths veiled by the powerful illusions that $2.4 billion per year
Ray Rogers, head of Corporate
Campaign, Inc. offered this analysis:
“They are right at
the top of the worst companies in the world, and yet they've created
an image like they are American pie. When people think of Coca-Cola,
they should think about great hardship and despair for people and communities
around the world."
What are some of the hardships
and despairs associated with Coca Cola?
India is the scene of some
of Coke’s most serious crimes.
In the remote village of
Plachimada, Coke’s $25 million bottling plant depleted the water
wells of locals. Adding insult to injury, Coca Cola also distributed
“free fertilizer” to indigenous farmers. The “fertilizer”
was a by-product of its production process and was loaded with cadmium,
a carcinogenic toxin. Locals staged an ongoing demonstration at the
plant starting in 2002. In 2005 the Kerala State Pollution Control Board
shut down the Coke facility.
A Coke plant in Mehdiganj
has caused Indian citizens in twenty towns to face significant water
scarcity with water tables dropping by 18 feet.
Pesticide levels in Coke
produced in India average 25 times the maximum levels established by
the Bureau of Indian Standards. As a result, the Indian state of Kerala
has banned the sale of Coke.
It is instructive to note
that the Bush administration, ever the corporate champion, dispatched
U.S. Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin to issue
this thinly veiled threat to India:
"In a time when India
is working hard to attract and retain foreign investment, it would be
unfortunate if the discussion were dominated by those who did not want
to treat foreign companies fairly."
Yes, Franklin. It is indeed
unfair that people in India don’t want to drink pesticide to enhance
Coke’s profits. And Coca Cola thanks you for providing a return
on its investment of $380,000.00 to the Bush presidential campaign in
In his April 2006 ZNet article,
Communities Dry , Joe Zacune of War
on Want wrote:
The company admits that without
water it would have no business at all. Coca-Cola’s operations
rely on access to vast supplies of water, as it takes almost three litres
of water to make one litre of Coca-Cola. In order to satisfy this need,
Coca-Cola is increasingly taking over control of aquifers in communities
around the world. These vast subterranean chambers hold water resources
collected over many hundreds of years. As such they the represent the
heritage of entire communities.
It is indeed ironic that
the company that once used the tagline “Delicious, wholesome,
thirst quenching” is depriving significant numbers of people around
the globe of ready access to potable water.
And do the ends justify the
means? To offset its theft and poisoning of water supplies, does Coca
Cola create an elixir that benefits humanity in a substantial way? Hardly....
Here’s to your (deteriorating)
Coca Cola easily dissolves
tooth enamel. Its high phosphorus contact causes the depletion of calcium
in the body. Calcium depletion increases the risk of osteoporosis in
adults and of bone fractures in adolescents. As calcium leaves the body,
it is often collected in the kidneys to form kidney stones. Coke can
also impede proper digestion and exacerbate acid reflux.
And let’s not forget
the additional “health benefits” to Coke drinkers. The extremely
high sugar content increases the chance of obesity 1.6 times each time
a person downs a soda. And to complement the lovely prospect of becoming
obese, the over-consumption of sugar associated with drinking Coke on
a regular basis puts one at risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.
In 2002, Dr. Francine Ratner
Kaufman wrote of a disturbing trend involving our children, who happen
to be frequent targets of Coke's advertising:
As the new president of the
American Diabetes Association and as a pediatric endocrinologist, I
have had the opportunity to appreciate the recent change in the face
of type 2 diabetes in the United States. Type 2 diabetes has changed
from a disease of our grandparents and parents to a disease of our children….In
1992, it was rare for most pediatric centers to have patients with type
2 diabetes. By 1994, type 2 diabetes accounted for up to 16% of new
cases of pediatric diabetes in urban areas, and by 1999, it accounted
for 8–45% of new cases depending on geographic location.
“Relax with Coke”…But
don’t try to work for them
Coke has been particularly
hard on the health of union activists and members. In Colombia, nine
Coca Cola-employed union leaders have been killed and hundreds of union
workers tortured, kidnapped, or attacked by right-wing paramilitaries.
Ironically, the timing of the violence of the paramilitaries has coincided
with union agitation and contract negotiations.
The New York City Council
sent a group to Colombia to investigate Coca Cola’s potential
responsibility for the murders and assaults. Documenting 179 human rights
abuses and determining that Coke’s bottlers were closely aligned
with the paramilitaries who committed the crimes, the investigators
issued this statement:
“The company denies
any involvement in the threats, assassinations, kidnappings and other
terror tactics, but its failure to protect its workers even on company
property, its refusal to investigate persistent allegations of payoffs
to paramilitary leaders by plant managers, and its unwillingness to
share documentation that might demonstrate otherwise leads the delegation
to the conclusion that Coca-Cola is complicit in the human rights abuses
of its workers in Colombia.”
In May of 2005, a Coca Cola
facility in Turkey fired five union organizers. A day later, Coke fired
50 union employees. When the fired employees refused to leave immediately,
Coke had Turkish riot police known as Cevik Kuvvet drive them off by
Coke was not finished. They
waited five days and then fired 50 more union members.
In July, the fired union
members and their families gathered at the Coca Cola facility to peacefully
protest their termination. 1,000 Cevik Kuvvet sprayed them with tear
gas and beat them with batons. Coca Cola’s violent suppression
of union activity sent 90 people to the hospital that day
According to a detailed report
by Human Rights Watch, child labor is rampant in El Salvador. Children
as young as eight are subjected to back-breaking and dangerous labor
harvesting sugar-cane for subsistence wages. Companies purchasing and
using the sugar enable and perpetuate this morally reprehensible practice.
Human Rights Watch asserted:
One such business is The
Coca-Cola Company, which uses sugar from El Salvador’s largest
mill, Central Izalco, located in the Department of Sonsonate. Coca-Cola
uses Salvadoran sugar in its bottled beverages for domestic consumption
in El Salvador and in its canned beverages sold throughout Central America.
At least four of the plantations that supply sugarcane to Central Izalco
regularly use child labor, Human Rights Watch found after interviewing
children and adults who work on those plantations. When Human Rights
Watch brought this information to Coca-Cola’s attention, Coca-Cola
asked its supplier mill to conduct its own investigation into the use
of child labor on plantations that supply the mill. Coca-Cola’s
extensive response to the information provided by Human Rights Watch
did not contradict our findings.
In 1946, one of Coke’s
advertising slogans was:
Whenever you hear "Have
a Coke," you hear the voice of America
I wonder how often eight
year old El Salvadoran children hear the voice of America and think
that “Coke adds life”….
They’re counting on
After weighing the evidence,
I have decided to excise soft drinks from my life. And that is no easy
task for a "four can a day" addict. So the next time you are
downing a refreshing can of soda, I urge you to resist Coke’s
$2.4 billion mind fuck and think about thirsty human beings drinking
cadmium-contaminated water, pesticide cocktails, “fertilizer”
derived from toxic sludge, decaying teeth, corpulence, child diabetics,
murder for hire, police batons cracking skulls, children suffering the
horrors of child labor, and the growing trend toward global fascism.
And remember to“Enjoy
that refreshing new feeling.” Fascist elements are counting on
your blind loyalty in their bid to subjugate the world’s masses
to corporate domination.
is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually
and spiritually. He writes prolifically and his essays have appeared
widely on the Internet. He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org
or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
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