But then so was Charlie Chaplin. And the US government was scared to death of him. (They’re not afraid of Colbert, though, having invited him to the White House for dinner.)
Unlike Colbert, Chaplin had a moral compass. He actually cared about people. But then, Chaplin had been homeless before his fame and fortune arrived. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, temporary poverty can build character, can build empathy and compassion in a human being. Most Americans have lost the ability to show empathy and compassion for each other because they’ve never experienced real poverty. Sad but true. Doesn’t matter whether they’re liberal or conservative. Most Americans just don’t give a s*it. And will continue to not give a s*it until they become poor themselves.
Believe me, I know. I know because I was homeless. I’ve seen the way seemingly “good” people treat you once they realize you have no money or connections. (They give only to get paid in the form of good publicity for themselves. They give to make themselves look good–not out of kindness or compassion. Soon those two words will be removed from the American English dictionary altogether, I’m afraid. In fact, many Americans don’t want to help the poor as they see us as defective in some way. I truly believe that many Americans would like us poor people to just die and get out of their way.) Gosh, I hope people from countries outside of the US begin to recognize this. I want the world to know about the true America, the true USA. It’s not the Land of Opportunity at all. Not at all.
And do you know why? I’ll attempt to explain it here (though I really need to get to the point, don’t I?) Because Americans believe in a thing called “rugged individualism.” What that means is that if you have a problem, it is your own, individual fault. It has nothing to do with the economy, the system, the social structure within which we live, or anything outside of you. It’s all about you. So when I began to struggle financially, everyone around me decided it must be my fault. Something had to be wrong with me. (One acquaintance tried to convince me that I must have a drug or alcohol problem because she couldn’t believe a person could become homeless otherwise! I had to argue in my defense, explaining that I don’t take drugs–not even prescription drugs–and I rarely drink. Alcohol has a bad effect on me, actually. In fact, I avoid artificial chemicals in my food as well. Though I can’t afford to eat everything organic, I do strive to eat as natural and unprocessed as possible. But frankly, I resent having to defend myself this way since I know plenty of people who are very well-off financially who drink alcohol/abuse drugs/eat frankenfoods everyday. But they’ll never be homeless because they vote Republican.) And of course, this rugged individualist thinking prevents us Americans from coming together and protesting the true cause of our problems. We’re all walking around suffering alone, blaming ourselves as individuals for choices that we did NOT make, that wealthy, privileged people made on our behalf and without our consent.
Whew! It’s so hard to reduce these complex ideas into a simple sound byte. I wish I weren’t an American so I wouldn’t have to dumb-down my ideas, but anyhow, I’ll continue the effort here.
Charlie Chaplin possessed a thing called “integrity.” Have you heard of it, Mr. Colbert?
Here’s the online Merriam-Webster definition of “integrity”: “the quality of being honest and fair, the state of being complete or whole, firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values…” Wait, I’ll stop there. A code of moral or artistic values. Hmm…
You see, Mr. Colbert, Charlie Chaplin made a film, “The Great Dictator,” which was instrumental in influencing the US to fight Hitler. Most Hollywood bigwigs discouraged him from making the film. What Chaplin had to say was not popular, but Chaplin wasn’t concerned with popularity or making money. He was concerned about making the world a better place. What a concept! He’d already made a lot of money, already attained great success, so now his thoughts had moved higher up, higher than his own ego and his own desire for personal gain.
At the time, the US was not against Hitler’s regime. Nope, we were not the great heroes Americans want to think we were. We were perfectly okay with Hitler’s persecution of other people, as long as he wasn’t persecuting us. Chaplin also made films such as “Modern Times” which criticized industrialization, employees being dehumanized, treated like cogs in a wheel, by wealthy bureaucrats who only cared about their own profit margin.
For this, Chaplin was labeled a “communist” (the term used for today’s “terrorists”), was spied on heavily during the McCarthy era and finally deported. Guess you think Americans voted for that too, Mr. Colbert? In fact, most Americans know nothing about this history or about their own history at all. Sad but true. Part of the reason for this is that it’s hard to become a genuine teacher today. One needs to be licensed or certified and, of course, that costs oodles of money, so those of us who aren’t wealthy and advocate for the rights of the poor aren’t likely to become teachers and to start teaching history. We’ll let the children of wealthy bureaucrats teach their version of “history.” They can afford to get “licensed” to teach it.
Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. Is that why you promote ignorance, Mr. Colbert, because its blissful and makes the masses laugh at what should really make them cry, if not recoil in horror?
But here’s the post I left on CNN’s web site:
I used to be a huge Colbert fan. He and Jon Stewart were the only ones who could make me laugh. But I’ve been noticing the hypocrisy and, sadly, I can’t ignore it. First, there was the interview with the woman who made a film advocating torture. Torture is an abomination–worse than slavery and isms: sexism, racism, classism, ageism, etc. Anyone who advocates torture is a sick human being and, most likely, a sociopath. Would you like to experience water-boarding, Mr. Colbert? Do you think torture is a joke? Or are you like most Americans, unconcerned about the suffering of others–as long as it’s the “other” who suffers and not “me.”
I, for one, am embarrassed to be an American and to know that the entire world is watching and fully aware that Americans are not only engaging in torture but our “liberal” political comedians promote it.
Yes, I also saw the interview with Stanley McChrystal, the general you seem to think is a hero, Mr. Colbert. Sorry, but I wasn’t laughing. I’m not an advocate of torture or of murder. I hope never to be. Even though my values are no longer American values, and so I must remain poor because I refuse to sell out, I can’t betray my own conscience.
Oh, and I admit I will watch Colbert and Stewart from time to time and possibly will laugh here and there, but not like before. I used to watch both shows frequently. Now, I view them occasionally and, yes, I can appreciate the comedic talent of both men. But I don’t appreciate the hypocrisy and your selling out on the American people. I don’t care how much money and power you have. I’ll say it directly to your face if need be. (Again, that’s why I’m poor. I haven’t been bowing to money and power. But then again, if there were more people like me, we wouldn’t be having the problems we’re having today, and then I wouldn’t be poor because my ideas would be popular. But my conscience is stronger than my ego. So be it.)
Mr. Colbert, you have a large platform and with that comes a huge responsibility. You can be brave (as was Charlie Chaplin back in the day) or you can be a greedy, foolish, coward who sells out your own people (sort of like Obama but on a smaller scale.) The choice, of course, is yours. I’m poor and struggling myself. I don’t have a platform. Few people will hear what I have to say, so no matter how articulate, well-educated or well-written I may be, I can do very little to save this country. (And no, I don’t believe my voting makes a difference either.) But you, Mr. Colbert, with your wealth and influence could do a lot. We live in an aristocracy. The ideas and opinions of the wealthy are praised and highly valued.
We’re going down (as a country), of course. And if Thom Hartmann is correct, there’ll be another economic crash around 2016.
But we don’t need to become the next Soviet Union. We can return to the days of freedom where we could at least express our grievances to this corrupt government and demand change. We don’t need to become a stasi-like police state where millions of people suffer but no one is brave enough to speak out. In that place, change cannot happen. Change doesn’t take place when people are too afraid to rise up and speak out.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87217329″>In-Print Photobook Video #42: Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives by Simon Menner</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/photoeye”>photo-eye</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Or when those who do bravely speak out conveniently die shortly after (or are found guilty of some serious crime then imprisoned for the rest of their lives so that no one will hear them speak again.)
Note: By the way, I had a very difficult time pasting the Chaplin footage onto this blog. When I tried to open the video, I got a response that the web site (dailymotion.com) was “unavailable” after my computer spent an incredibly long time attempting to open the site. (Yet this is a commonly used site, like youtube.) So I had to make several attempts at opening the web site. Then when I was able to access Dailymotion.com, I received a message that that Chaplin video was “unavailable” due to technical difficulties: “We are experiencing some difficulties with this video, please (sic) try again later.” After many attempts I posted that video but then searched for the Great Dictator speech, and guess what? Yep, I got another “error” message once the computer was finally able to open that page. Hmm… Could it be the NSA virus striking once again? No wonder, Stephen Colbert advocates surveillance. It makes it easier for people like himself to escape scrutiny when we the people are so heavily censored and micromanaged.
Remember this, Mr. Colbert, “Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!” Eventually, even the American people will realize this.