Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Over the course of the last three plus years of discussion, planning, and preparation for our trip we have both come across quite a bit of backlash from our fellow countrymen wondering why in the world we would want to leave America.  Some people feel as though we are being foolish to even take a short trip abroad let alone have the audacity to discuss the desire to move abroad at some point in time.  They can’t even fathom why we would even entertain the idea of leaving the greatest, safest, most free and fair country the world has ever seen.  In this post I will give some cases of American history which show a more realistic portrayal of America.  You may call us communist, socialist, anti-American, and un-patriotic.  Hopefully some of you may start to ask the question, is America really so great?

As some of you may know, I (Corey) am a vociferous reader of history, politics, and current events.  I may not have received a traditional education, but I feel that on the subjects of American history, politics, and US foreign policy I can hang with any degree holder.  I have always felt that history is the most important subject being taught in school.  History allows for us to see patterns, what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully allows people and nations to learn from their mistakes.  Because of its power, history has also been the subject with the most governmental control.  No country likes to admit that it’s done horrible things and that its heroes might have been despicable people.  The key to history is learning real history, not the government sponsored version.

As children, we learn that America has basically never made a mistake and that we have always had the interest of the people of the world in mind. This could not be further from the truth.  Here is an instance that may shock you.  (If you are so inclined, do the research and you will find that I’m speaking the truth.)  The most unpopular war in our history is assumed to be the Vietnam War, this is false.  In fact World War I was so unpopular that Woodrow Wilson had to create the Conscription(Draft) Act just to get people to fight.  Americans at home knew that we weren’t going into Europe to stop German aggression, we were going in to try to salvage the money we had spent financing the French and British war effort.  If Germany won, we would lose the hundreds of millions of dollars that our big bankers loaned those countries.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in the War, not for freedom, but to protect the business interests of a handful of super rich men.  Wilson also introduced the Espionage Act of 1917.  At first glance this seems great, stop anyone from spying on America.  That, however, was not the purpose of the Espionage Act.  It allowed the government to jail any person for an undisclosed amount of time for exercising their 1st amendment right in speaking out against the war.  Thousands were jailed using this law as justification.  Sounds kind of similar to the unlawful combatants of the War on Terror doesn’t it?  Except these are American citizens. This wasn’t the first and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that American’s rights are stripped away at the convenience of the government.  The famous poet and writer Henry David Thoreau was jailed for speaking out against the Mexican War in 1846 and hundreds of thousands of Japanese were rounded into camps during WWII.  Now that doesn’t sound very free and fair.

Let’s turn to the our fearless leader during WWI, Woodrow Wilson.  He is remembered as one of the great American presidents.  Actually, he was a  racist, a bigot, and a liar.   Upon entering the White House, he took it upon himself to segregate or fire all non whites working in the building.  You don’t learn that in middle school.  During his campaign for the presidency, he promised to keep America out of the Great War only to cave to business interests one year after being elected.  Our history is filled with evil men portrayed as heroes.  Our 7th president, another racist, Andrew Jackson slaughtered unknown numbers of Indians in Florida.  Personally killing defenseless women and children.  Even Christopher Columbus couldn’t help taking his sword to any innocent Indian that came across his path.  The proof is in his personal diary.

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...
Image via Wikipedia

World War I is just one of many examples in American history of wars, interventions, and coups carried out not for the benefit of everyday Americans or the people in the countries that we are intervening in, but for the corporations whose profits would take a hit.  We overthrew a democratically elected president, Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973 because he was going to kick United Fruit, an American business, out of Chile so that the people of Chile could profit from the sales of the fruit that they grew.  In his place, we installed General Augusto Pinochet, a brutal dictator who ruled with an iron fist and killed hundreds of thousands of people.  This was not an isolated incident.  Similar situations have occurred in Iran, Argentina, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Uruguay and many other countries.

Augusto Pinochet
Image via Wikipedia

I find it very important for all people to know the truth about what their governments have done in the past in order to determine the truth behind what is going to today.  America is not alone in trying to hide shameful things in its past from its current populus, but in it’s rather short history the American government has been behind some horrible people and some rather despicable causes.  I may be in the minority, but I feel that people shouldn’t talk about the glory of America without knowing real American history. 

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 We had our first couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) experience last night.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, couchsurfing is a way to meet other people who share their love for traveling and adventure.  There are 2 ways to do that: either travel to someone’s home or be a host.  Hosting can be offering up your couch for someone to spend the night(s) or you can just meet up for drinks.  At some point I think we will change our user settings so that our couch is available, but right now it’s just on the “meet for coffee or drinks” setting.    



  So, it all started a week ago when a girl sent me a message asking if I wanted to hang out while she was in town.  I took a look at her profile, saw her references & decided to have her over for dinner.  Pauline is a student from Belgium who decided to come to Wisconsin for a bit before going back to school in a couple of weeks.  She arrived on August 10th & has already seen & done more than I have living here for 3 years!   

Pauline & I


  We had a good time talking to her about travelling, photography, biking & the weird laws that Americans have.  One example: getting in trouble for having an open container in your car.  If this same scenario happened in Belgium, as long as you weren’t drinking & driving, you’d be free to go on your merry way.  Here you’d go to jail for the night.  We don’t drink at all, which I thought she would find strange.  But Pauline said that compared to her hometown, people here hardly drink.  I found that funny, because people drink so much more here (in the Milwaukee area) than they do in Raleigh!  Anyway, it was just really nice to meet someone who was so nice & happy to meet new people.  Pauline said that it was refreshing to meet many Americans & be able to see that we’re not all loud, obnoxious & ignorant.   Overall, we had a great time & I hope that we’re able to hang out with her again before she leaves!   

Pauline, me & Corey


So, we have taken our first baby steps into the world of couchsurfing.  Pauline already knew the family she was staying with & they were having such a hard time understanding why she would meet with strangers in place she hasn’t been to before.  I think that Americans are taught not to trust anybody & always keep your guard up.  I’m not saying that every person we will encounter won’t be dangerous, but not every stranger is a criminal either.  I definitely want to have a few more visits like this before we decide to have people over for a weekend or more.  But, we have to start somewhere & in order to meet people we’re going to need to be more social.  Wish us luck!

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