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Commentary Last Updated: May 7th, 2008 - 00:21:51

Ashamed to be American
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 7, 2008, 00:13

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I was reading Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, by Murat Kurnaz, when I came across a passage about Kurnaz being subjected to gruesome electric shock torture at the hands of America�s brave volunteer warriors. After passing out and being tossed back in his cell to sleep it off, Kurnaz was soon awakened by harrowing screams.

He saw two valiant American soldiers hitting a man who was lying on the ground -- his head wrapped in a blanket. Five more patriotic heroes eventually joined in on the beating, hitting the man�s head with the butts of their rifles and kicking him with their heavy boots. �Then,� says Kurnaz, �they walked away, leaving him lying there.�

The next morning, the man was still lying in the same spot, in a pool of blood. It wasn�t until later that afternoon that four US officers came to inspect him and an escort team earned their yellow ribbons by taking away his lifeless body.

�I wondered to myself if had any children,� writes Kurnaz. �Whether his mother and father would ever find out that he had been beaten to death. At that moment, I didn�t care whether it was him or me. My life was worth nothing more than his. I�d understood for quite some time what this camp was about. They could do with us what they pleased. And I might be next.�

Even if the man who was beaten was death was proven -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- to be personally responsible for 9/11, how can anyone but a sociopath justify such treatment? Can anyone but a sadistic criminal justify the existence of Gitmo? How much more will it take before everyday Americans collectively hang their heads in shame over this ongoing crime and the many other examples of their [sic] nation�s contemptible conduct?

Are any of you ashamed of the epidemics of preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.? What about the poisoning of our air, water, and food (including mother�s breast milk); the one-third of Americans uninsured or underinsured when it comes to health care; the fact that 61 percent of US corporations do not even pay taxes; the presidential lies, electoral fraud, limited debates, and so on; the largest prison population on the planet; corporate control of public land, public airwaves, public pensions; overt infringement of our civil liberties; bloated defense budget, unilateral military interventions, war crimes committed in our name, legalization of torture, blah blah blah?

What will it take before you are wholeheartedly ashamed to be American?

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. Do I feel the planet is in peril?

2. Do I believe that those in power -- those most responsible for the planet being in peril -- will relinquish power voluntarily?

If you answered �yes� to number one and �no� to number two, I have one more question for you: How much are you willing to endure before you take serious, sustained action?

Mickey Z. is the author of the forthcoming novel, CPR for Dummies, and can be found on the Web at

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