But let’s start at the beginning. At the FITUR travel-trade fair in Madrid in 2010 I fell into a casual conversation with the representative attending the New York City stand. We talked about N.Y., tourism, Spain, the usual. As I was leaving he said to me, “I heard you talking with the guy on the next stand. Why do you speak such good Spanish?” I told him I’d lived here for 40 years. “Wow,” he said, “how did that happen?” I told him the truth: “I just got bored and discouraged with where the U.S. was heading when I was discharged from the Army back in 1968, and I went looking for a better place. I discovered Spain and fell for it in a big way. After living here for 15 years I renounced my American citizenship in order to accept Spanish nationality.”
After years of simmering indignation with the direction the United States was taking, both at home and abroad, last year I finally started writing The Turncoat Chronicles. Not that I thought I was going to add any new revelations to the story, as the facts are all there for anyone who wants to look them up. I did, however, think I could contribute one new element to the discussion: a fresh point of view, that of a person who rejected the American dream at the end of the sixties, and went looking for something better. I found that alternative in Spain. That’s a long story, which the book deals with in detail. Here, though, I want to remark on an interesting by product which came along with my move across the Atlantic and longtime residence abroad: a clearer view of the country that I left behind.
Paradoxical as it seems, there are things which one can see clearer from nearly 3,000 miles away. Not everything, mind you, but some very important things which the majority of Americans seem to be unable–or unwilling–to see from close up. The professional commentators are no exception. So much of the discourse in the American media looks terribly endogamic from here: pundits recycling analysts recycling the press releases from the government and its right-wing “think tanks.”
Do It Yourself in the Library
So I decided to do some research of my own and document “American blundering and plundering around the globe” and put it all into a book. After writing the first three chapters I decided to give myself a reality check and sent the text to some friends on both sides of the Atlantic whose judgment I trusted. The results were fascinating. Everybody on that side of the Atlantic, and a couple on this side, were emphatically in agreement as to what I had written, especially in Chapter 3. Their conclusion: “You can’t say that!”
They gave various reasons:
- You tell some truths that Americans clearly don’t want to know. This will make you unpopular.
- You’re blunt and un-tactful. And you only tell one side of the story.
- You’re taking on the whole U.S. establishment: the politicians, the media, the military and economic powers. Are you sure you can handle such a big bite? You’re going to sound pretty marginal over there.
- You’ll lose most of your readers in the U.S. market!
- There’s nothing so dangerous as telling the truth.
“We Love You; Put Down That Gun”
Most interestingly, I thought, was that a couple of old friends from the States actually got emotional, virtually threatening to cut off our correspondence. I expected that reaction from some American readers, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it from old friends. I anticipated that response in Chapter 8 (We Love You; Put Down That Gun), considering it a logical adjunct of a widespread American process of denial: “They went into deep denial, like the terminally ill, and turned to old-time religion for solutions, hoping against hope that God would descend from the machine and make them whole again, or better yet, smite their enemies and haul their own chosen asses directly into Heaven.”
Even so, I was obliged to rethink my approach. Should I try to be more tactful? Should I cut out some of the most flagrantly lurid material? Should I dwell a bit on the positive side of the American agenda. I mean, George W. Bush probably does make wonderful barbecued ribs. I pondered all of these possibilities for about four minutes, before realizing that if I did make any of those changes I would be negating the very essence of my thesis, which has mainly to do with honesty and decency. So I decided to leave everything as it was, and continue in the same vein, portraying the U.S. body politic and civil society exactly as I perceive them from here. I have had the deference, however, to introduce a caveat into Chapter 1, so as not to be guilty of misleading my readers:
My guess is that about three quarters of the Americans reading this book should put it down right now, because you’re going to be outraged by it. I have some plain truths for you that even your best friend won’t tell you, about your country’s cynicism and rapine around the world, and your own indifference to/complicity in it. Booth’s Law of Collective Responsibility maintains that we’re all guilty.
I’ll leave you on that cheerful note. Have a nice week.
Read the whole story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for sharing and commenting.
I’m pleased to announce that my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles, has been published both on Amazon.com and on Smashwords.com. I’m expecting the book to raise some eyebrows in the U.S.A., as it’s openly critical of the past half century of foreign and domestic policy abortions carried out by the country’s big military, industrial and government operators. Having said that, what little feedback I’ve had thus far has only been positive. Though I suspect that’s because that praise has come from what our friend Moroccan Sheila calls “birds of my feather.”
Why publish it in both places? Because Amazon only offers it in their own proprietary Kindle format (AZT), while Smashwords converts it not only for the Kindle, but for all the other ereader formats, as well. If you don’t own an ereader, it’s not a problem. You can download a reader for your computer for free. I like the Adobe Digital Editions reader which provides a smooth and pleasant reading experience in the epub format.
You know the opinion I’m really interested in hearing? Yours. Just hit “Leave a comment” and say your piece.
As schoolchildren in small-town Michigan we were taught to love our country. It was a great nation, blessed with “amber waves of grain,” and its good people were “crowned with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” Every morning when we entered the classroom we were obliged to stand, place our right hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands…” Continue reading