Content Warning: Story of state violence, use of rape imagery, and racial slurs.
America was born like most nations – invaded, plundered, violently colonized by the diseased, and in turn, decimated the indigenous people of the land.
The foreign people of this land then fought to reclaim the land that wasn’t theirs to begin with. They fought the “enemy,” and drove them out with loads of gunpowder, midnight rides through Boston, and, of course, tea. Boys died fighting for “freedom,” and for their right to this sweet land of liberty. And women died with guns left inside of them. Let freedom ring!
Meanwhile, these new Americans somehow thought it was their right to go to other countries and round up other humans to bring over to their newly acquired land, to slave for their white needs. Sold by their village leaders, torn from their mother’s arms, chosen for their strength, forced to convert to a religion that speaks highly of kindness and equality, only to find that if they were lucky enough to survive the journey to the Americas, they most likely would be thrown overboard after a hideous, painful, scary and lonely death. On arrival, they were again sold, whipped, beaten into submission, while they adjusted to their new lives of servitude. You know, America. Land of Opportunity.
While dark skinned Africans built big, white houses, walls and monuments, civility leapt forward. Yet, the North and the South couldn’t agree on how to own humans – Shall we do it humanely, or, inhumanely? – they would ask themselves and accuse each other of unethical behavior. After much debate and a President who couldn’t take it anymore, the North and South decided to show each other who was Boss – they had to illustrate to each other who was better at disparaging and dehumanizing those that were torn from their homeland and shouldn’t have been in America in the first place.
Now, you can imagine, this must have been violent. Of course. A strong lesson for you boys and girls, is that a country founded on violence, will continue to be violent. Forever. The Civil War, was anything but. It’s said that over 620,000 died in this war, not only from the massive celebration of violence, but from disease as well. In the end, the North, who was for owning humans more humanely, won.
The “Wild West,” was an excellent time in America. Cowboys, expansion, saloons, quick draw competitions (only one winner there, folks!), gold, the complete destruction of Native American tribes and their territory – this golden time in America’s history is full of glory, rape and prosperity! Government sponsored land grabs were especially adventurous. Just picture – hundreds of white people, including women and children, on their horses, flags in hand, waiting impatiently at the starting line. Taking off like lightening at the sound of a gunshot, greed drove these families to claim land that wasn’t theirs to claim – while the real owners of the land stood and watched – dazed, confused, defeated – while their beautiful brown skin glistened in the prairie sun. Just like amber waves of grain.
The Industrial Revolution along with mass immigration from all over the world, brought diversity to America. Yet, it also brought fear. Arrival to Ellis Island meant you were fresh off the boat, as well as target of ethnic and racial slurs, as one simply walked down the street of New York City. Han, Dago, Gook, Plastic Paddy, Polack – all welcomed the new population, who were seeking a better life in America – the perceived “melting pot” of the West.
Why were they so unwelcome? Well, they chose to come over of their own volition. They weren’t rounded up and forced to come over against their will. They held their own religious values, which as you might know, do not align with America’s “Judeo-Christian” values. Yet, it is important to note that “real Americans” welcomed these folks to help build-up America. Tunnels, bridges, coalmines, railroads, freeways – all built on the backs of those that were unseen for whom they really were. Humans.
Americans are proud of our accomplishments from World War II! Why, you ask? Well, just consider how we are the only country in the world to kill millions of people within minutes – what an accomplishment! We enlisted only the best scientists to build a weapon strong enough to enact revenge and melt the skin off people’s bodies in an instant. America is so proud that we “won” WWII. Because, as they are referred by journalists such as Tom Brokaw, the “Greatest Generation” reminds us that those Japs, deserved it.
You can sleep better tonight my love, knowing that the creation of the atom bomb led America, and the world, to create nuclear weapons that can decimate the planet within minutes. The rockets’ red glare, the bombs we’ve burst in the air, assure us, that our flag is still there. We are so proud to be a leader in this fight to claim the highest level of destruction and weaponry, the greatest threat to humankind, the illustrious show of leadership, topped with abundant aggression. We can literally end the world with one push of a button. How great it that? American’s are proud people! We stand tall knowing that we are Numero Uno!
You know how children go to school every day and simply walk through the door and sit at their desk? Well, in the 1950’s especially, children with dark skin couldn’t do that – unless they were at a school with kids who had the same skin color. It’s true! Pretty, young, white women, with pearls, coiffed hair, in dresses and heels, made sure that little black children knew they weren’t welcome at an all-white school. They made sure to stand at the police-lined barricade, while innocent children were escorted safely by the National Guard into their school. It must have been such an honor for these kids to receive such media attention, a military escort, as well as to receive such a warm welcome by women who belonged to the PTA and the local Country Club. It should also be mentioned that bathrooms, drinking fountains, diners – these places also unwelcomed those of color. Oh, and buses too. Until Rosa Parks decided, that she had had enough.
The 60’s and 70’s brought peace, Napalm, love, burning bras, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., President Kennedy and Malcolm X. As America continued to police the world, mass immigration led our country to its evermore developing, fantastically diverse population. South Asians, Afghans and Arabs began to assert their desire for a better life, bringing their beautiful culture and religions, to challenge our English only ideology, our understanding of religion, as well as replacing pizza, hamburgers and fries, with kabobs, hummus and shawarma. Per the American way, these souls were also welcomed with ethnic slurs, ensuring that those Towelheads, knew they didn’t belong.
Have you ever wondered how all these ethnic and racial slurs were developed? An American past-time, there’s a slur for anyone and everyone who is perceived as “different.” You see, racism is a social construct. We are all born human, but some humans seem to believe that they are superior, simply due to their race, or their culture. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but you can relax knowing that these slurs took a lot of hatred, anger, energy and investment of time to think of, and more, to spread to the masses. Gosh, racial and ethnic slurs are as American as apple pie!
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, America worked hard to stay on track to ensure world domination in any way possible, and do our best to maintain our ultra-violent, homophobic, society – because we do it so well! Attempted assassinations, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Branch Davidians, the Oklahoma City bombing, Matthew Shepard, Columbine – Americans in general are excellent at remembering how it all began and continuing the tradition of dishonoring each other, and the world.
Almost 20 years in to this millennium, Americans are proud that we still haven’t lost our touch. 9/11 brought a new sense of patriotism, urgency and reaction to our backlash, our inability to reconcile, and our revengeful theology. Yet, the rest of the world was nodding their heads, saying quietly, “We thought it would happen a long time ago.” American’s however, have God on our side, right? We always have! Our God, as you know, is the better God. He always protects us and He graciously gives us more ideas on how to eliminate the human race for good. In God is our trust. He is a good God – full of righteousness and futility.
Yes, once upon a time a violent nation was born, Today, hundreds of years later, America is proud that it lives up to the values it was born with. We will not let the fabric of our society be torn apart, suffer, be maligned, or give way to absolute equality. We did try to fix ourselves with the election of the first black President – but, we blew it! We made monsters, where monsters didn’t exist. We even hated tan suits! Then we tried again to fix it, by attempting to elect our first female President. But, due to her being a woman, as well as her emails, her pantsuits and Benghazi being all her fault, we hated her too! We always let misogyny rule. Because that’s more fun! Now, we are trying to Make America Great Again! We are doing this by allowing more mass shootings, more black lives lost, more mass shootings, white supremacist rallies, more mass shootings, government shutdowns, #Metoo, Latino children in cages, more mass shootings, and endless foreign wars. Yet, still, America stands proud, because those Terrorists and Rapists will not harm us, on our land! However, as we continue to live happily ever after, Spics are welcome to pick fruits and vegetables, so our tables and stomachs are full. How blessed are we to live in the land of the free and home of the brave? We thrive knowing our star spangled banner still waves.
Violent. Powerful. Racist. Invincible. This is The Real American Horror Story.
Karen Leslie Hernandez is a theologian and interfaith activist. She has published with several media outlets including the Women’s United Nations Report Network, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue/Studies, the Interfaith Observer, and she is the only Christian to have published an ongoing Op-Ed Column with OnIslam out of Cairo, Egypt. Some of her past gigs include designing and teaching an Interfaith Dialogue workshop with Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, as well as spending three years working with United Religions Initiative, in several different positions. An Over-Achiever, Karen has not one, but two theological master’s degrees – one from Andover Newton Theological School, the other from Boston University School of Theology. She did her BA at Wellesley College, graduating with honors in her major, Peace and Justice Studies, where she wrote her thesis on Al Qaeda and their misuse religion for political gain. Karen currently lives in California, works at two faith based non-profits, teaches workshops throughout the Bay Area, is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Claremont School of Theology, and she is also a certified domestic violence advocate.
7 thoughts on “The Real American Horror Story by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
Three wars that were not holy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUBYI97cUgU
Is there anyway to get past all this? Look at what’s happening now with Trump. We have been this way since Roman/Greek/and before them. It was at the time of the “Judia/Christian/Muslim” rule. Yes, the history of the U.S. is what we need to realize. We also need to go deeper. We need to go beyond “Bottom-Up” governance by which “The People” need to actually be the government. Nor should there be “Top-Down”. It should be All in All. We speak to left in relationship to our voting. Then we speak to the right in our voting. Now, take your left hand and slap the right side of your face. Then, take your right hand and slap the left side of your face. E Pluribus Unim. IN the Many One. Left is one with the right. Women are right with the Men. (Women should be known as Yin (or another term) and the men Yang (or another term)). I reflect it on Inward (vagina, womb, etc) and outward (penis). Now what would it look like if we realize left and right are unified, especially in the middle of your body…..and the body of our world and the universe above us.
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So Carol, what shall we do?
So Carol and , what shall we do? And Leslie.
Spot-on! Excellent! Scary as hell! And generally accurate. I’m not sure I wanted to read this first thing in the morning–I never listen to any news until mid-afternoon–but you’ve written an insightful commentary on the history of the U.S. that helps to explain what’s going on all around us. Thanks……I think. But, well, someone had to say what you wrote, and you did it, and now we all have more to think about as we look around us both in “real life” and in “digital life,” i.e., the various social media. Goddess protect and preserve us!!!
BTW, historically, the U.S. is very similar to the late Roman Empire. And look what happened to them. The Romans went away from the lands they’d conquered and the “barbarians”–the ancestors of most of us, the people who lived on the land–revived themselves, the land, and truer civilization. I recommend an excellent book: Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered (2008) by Peter S. Wells. It’ll make you snarl at the usual history books. And look more carefully at the world today.
You nailed it – the real story – incredible post Karen – thank you. This post should be on the cover of every magazine, newspaper etc etc in the country – our oh so “GREAT” country – constrcutd out of horror. Your words “a country founded on violence, will continue to be violent. Forever” are so true and so scary that it numbs the soul.
BTW I am re-posting this on my blog and on Facebook.
The wages of patriarchy. We are way overdue for major change, although eliminating the human race may be the only way to save the other species. We have really made a mess of things.