Shame and Pride in Being an American
April 1990By John C. Cort
There have been few times in my entire life 76 years when I have been more ashamed of being an American than when our military forces played rock music at full volume night and day outside the Vatican Nunciature in Panama. This went on for several days with no rebuke or apology from President Bush that I am aware of.
This reminded my wife of that scene in the Jimmy Cagney movie, One, Two, Three, where the East German police try to extract a confession from a suspect by forcing him to listen to the repeated playing of Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini.
This whole Panama invasion has been a shaming experience, no matter how many of our fellow citizens, including one of my own sons, think it was great and are ready to acclaim George Bush as no wimp, but a macho man worthy to succeed that other great macho man, Ronald Reagan, conqueror of mighty Grenada and death-defying bomber of Libyan women and children.
I agree with President Alan Garcia of Peru that the invasion of Panama has set relations between the United States and Latin America back 30 years. Well, perhaps 30 years is exaggerated because it implies that relations had advanced far enough to be set back that far. What is the record now after 10 U.S. invasions of Latin American countries, not including the U.S. invasion of Nicaragua via the Contra route? It was an appropriate footnote to the Panama caper that our brave soldiers also invaded the Nicaraguan Embassy and ransacked it. Even Bush had to admit that this was a screw-up, a good macho word. Perhaps he remembered the U.S. was once outraged by an Iranian invasion of our embassy in Teheran, a screw-up that may have cost President Carter re-election. But who cares about international law at any other time than when it serves our interests to express a little (hypocritical) concern?
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