Excerpts

These excerpts do not fully capture the evidence provided and arguments made in each chapter, nor do they provide a linear, coherent view of the chapter. Each four-dot ellipsis (….) indicates skipped paragraphs and/or pages. If you’d like to read the full Introduction, Chapter Two, and Chapter Eight, click here for a downloadable PDF that also includes the index and all of the endnotes for the book. 

Introduction:

As noted above, you can access, download, and read the entire Introduction by clicking here or by clicking on the book cover image on the homepage. The download includes other material, including all the endnotes for the book.


From Chapter One: Cultural Givens and the View From Here

…. As with any written statement, what follows is filtered through the author’s worldview—in this case, mine. It is the result of my experiences, beliefs, values, relationships, aspirations, and ongoing development. It also includes those aspects of myself of which I’m not yet aware—my own individual Shadow. (More about this in Chapter Two). My current worldview, at its best, allows me to see every human being on the planet as an equal—not in terms of physiology, talents, particular aspirations, or what I’ll refer to as “cultural givens,” but in terms of our common humanity, in terms of each of us being a member of the human species, Homo sapiens.

….

It is possible to embrace these cultural givens and live our lives without ever questioning them. It is also possible, and advisable, from the perspective of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, to embrace these givens early on and then, most commonly in adolescence and beyond but sometimes earlier, to reflect on them, challenge them, and see how they hold up against our direct experience of life.

….

Each of us has a given story—an initial set of givens—whether or not we are aware of it. Some of it is given in order to simplify a complex world for young children; some of it is given as literal truth by the adults who believe it; and each of us continues to be given more input through late childhood, adolescent, young adult, and adult experiences and observations.8 What we choose to accept, embrace, revise, or reject is up to us. 


Chapter Two: A Brief Overview of Shadow

Again, you can access, download, and read all of Chapter Two by clicking here or by clicking on the book cover image on the homepage. 


From Chapter Three: Fear of the Feminine & the Subjugation of Women: Getting Their Feet from off of Our Necks

…. While the examples of our collective national Shadow that will follow in chapters four through seven disclose disturbing manifestations of what we refuse to see in ourselves, this first example, an exploration of fear of the feminine and the subjugation of women, is both a disturbing manifestation of Shadow and an underlying trait that is present in the next four chapters as well. More to the point, it is the persistent absence of the qualities of the healthy feminine, further undermined by the relentless presence of the qualities of the unhealthy masculine, that encourages and amplifies, and may very well be the primary cause of, America’s collective Shadow.

….

In Toward a New Psychology of Women, written in response to the state of society, psychology, women, and men in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. [Jean Baker] Miller acknowledges that women have often been deeply involved in the economic production of society, but that “they have rarely, if ever, had an equal role in the direction of the society.” She further notes that “All social structures that male society has built so far have included within them the suppression of other men,” and that “What a relatively few men in our advanced society have been able to build has been at the great expense of other men.”

….

While a moral concern that impacted just oneself, others, or all others was a road that both female and male respondents traversed, [Carol] Gilligan began to see that how they navigated the process was quite different.

….

In the 1993 edition of In a Different Voice, Gilligan included a “Letter to Readers” in which she reflected on a decade of responses to the book and on her own ongoing learning: “When I hear my work being cast in terms of whether women and men are really (essentially) different or who is better than whom, I know that I have lost my voice, because these are not my questions.”

….

This push and pull of progress and resistance continues in such varied endeavors as job qualifications (especially but not only where physical strength or capacity is involved); job evaluations; pay equity; childcare; parental leave; and, recently, pandemic support.

….

Again, we’re not suggesting that men = bad and women = good (which would be an unhealthy masculine move). We’re pointing out that an integration of the feminine and masculine in each of us makes for happier, “wholer,” and more balanced women and men. We’re saying that because of men’s historical lack of understanding and fear of the feminine, which has manifested as a historical subjugation of women by men, this integration of the feminine and masculine is quite a bit behind schedule so to speak. Individual men didn’t choose this, although many were caught up in and helped perpetuate it.


From Chapter Four:  Trails of Tears & Broken Treaties, the Third Colorado Regiment, & the Only Good Indians1

While our focus is on the section of North America that became known first as the United Colonies, and then as the United States of America circa 1776, it is important to remember that the indigenous peoples had been on these lands for some 10,000 to 20,000 years when the English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French met, interacted with, and eventually colonized them.3 Slaughter, rape, removal, and betrayal often characterized the colonization process, which in contemporary parlance is a literal cancelation process, as the invaders interpreted different languages, technologies, and cultural beliefs and rituals as “lesser” (or, as some of us might say today, not “woke”) and the practitioners sometimes as “innocents” and sometimes as “savages” (much as some science fiction imagines more advanced beings arriving on earth and being taken aback by twentieth- and twenty-first-century human ignorance, savagery, violence, and war). 

    …to the point of this writing, the federal government of the United States entered into hundreds of treaties with diverse American Indian tribes between 1778 and 1871 and, for all practical purposes, has broken part or all of every treaty, even to the point of the Supreme Court’s 1903 decision in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, which held that Congress has the power to modify or terminate Native American treaties without the Native Americans’ consent.

….

By 1850, much of the former Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee land was inhabited by slaves and their owners in the forced labor camps in the south, and tensions continued to mount between abolitionists and slaveholders and between federal power and states’ rights advocates…. By the time the Civil War began, amid the complexities of their views on slavery, what secession would mean for them, desires for tribal sovereignty, and the immediacy of caring for their families, American Indians found themselves fighting each other “in a white man’s war.”21

….

…patterns of intrusion, resistance, violence, negotiation, treaty, betrayal, more violence, and new intrusions continued as settlers, prospectors, and explorers intentionally or ignorantly trespassed on lands that the government had agreed was “Indian Territory.”

….

At the time of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the federal government believed the Black Hills, Paha Sapa—effectively the spiritual center of the world for the Sioux—to be barren, useless land. In the treaty’s language, this area was north of the North Platte River and west of the Big Horn mountains, where no whites were permitted to pass through or settle without permission. Rumors of gold in the Black Hills, however, confirmed during an 1874 expedition led by now General Custer, attracted prospectors onto the sacred land…. Within two years the Homestake mine was discovered and the towns of Deadwood, Lead, and Rapid City were founded by gold prospectors on Sioux land in direct violation of the treaty. In 1877, Spotted Tail, one of the signatories to the 1868 treaty, would observe that “These promises have not been kept…. All the words have proved to be false.”36 

….

Amid the violence, theft, and betrayals, Christian missionaries of various denominations were busy trying to save the Indians’ souls and competing for exclusive salvation rights on the respective reservations. Buying and selling slaves had been okay with about half of the Christian nation, and trespassing, stealing land, and killing Indians was common practice with significantly more than half. The Native Americans’ reverence for the land, water, sky, and all the other-than-human beings catalogued in the first two chapters of Genesis was mysterious to the missionaries, who only seemed to remember verse 1:26, which put “man” in charge of the whole shebang. They seemed to forget, or ignore, that young Indian males quested for visions and that Elders relied on such visions, much as Jesus (and Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, and others) had.


From Chapter Five: Slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights & Everything Was Going to Change Now

When we speak or write about slavery in the conventional history of the United States of America, we tend not to hear or read too much about the actual moments of invasion of the diverse African2 communities, the violent kidnappings, the wretched conditions for those who made it onto the ships, the watery graves of those who died in transport, the feelings that any one of these human beings felt amid those unimaginable episodes, and the many subsequent episodes of being bought and sold and charged with forced, unpaid, backbreaking daily labor. That sentence itself does a feeble job of capturing the enormity of the horror inherent in these acts. 

….

… In this chapter, we’ll remember both history and context as we explore race in the contemporary United States.

….

Remember that the Emancipation Proclamations in 1862 and 1863 announced but could not enforce the freedom of formerly enslaved people. 

Remember that the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which made slavery unlawful in 1865, was followed almost immediately by the formation of the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee, and remember that the U. S. was among the last of the slave-trading and slave-owning countries to ban both trading and owning enslaved human beings.3

Remember that the 14th Amendment in 1868 guaranteed citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States, prevented any state from depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process and from denying any citizen equal protection of the laws. Notice and remember that 150-plus years later, our nation still struggles to manifest this particular destiny of equality.

Remember that the 15th Amendment in 1870, which granted formerly enslaved males the right to vote, was followed by decades of lynchings, beatings, local Jim Crow policies, and Black Code laws, especially in the South.

….

Remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and think deeply about why these two acts were even necessary in light of the hundred years of declarations, proclamations, amendments, and decisions that preceded them. And remember the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder that struck down part of the 1965 law, once again allowing several states and selected other voting districts to change their election laws without federal approval.15

….

Consider that from at least the 1950s through this book’s publication (and undoubtedly and unfortunately beyond), when human beings who are discriminated against and those who support them exercise their First Amendment rights through nonviolent demonstrations or protests, those who would deny them their rights or fear their actually attaining equality and equal protection of the laws, accuse them with sweeping generalizations, labels, and insults such as un- or anti-American, Marxist, communist, socialist or leftist.

….

This desire to enforce the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments equally among all Americans is typically characterized as un-American, “leftist,” “socialist,” and “Marxist” by an outspoken faction of traditionally white, ultra-conservative elites and leaders and that subset of citizens who take them at their word. Note the specifics of “outspoken faction,” which is not a blanket critique of tradition, whites, or conservatives. It is an indictment of Americans who insist on conflating social programs with socialism, Marxism, and Communism (except when the beneficiaries are the likes of Chrysler, Harley Davidson, Lockheed, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and others). We’ll say more about this selective socialist bogeyman in Chapter Eight.     

….

One particularly striking irony inherent in our nation’s trajectory toward a more perfect union is the willingness of black Americans to fight abroad for democratic principles that they are not fully experiencing at home. World Wars I and II were fought amid the heights of Jim Crow and the terror of lynching. The Korean War and the earliest days in Vietnam were fought before the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were passed, and all four of these conflicts took place amid the Great Migration, which was in effect bounded chronologically by World War I and Vietnam. 

….

This chapter depicts current American narratives about race in the context of America’s racial history and juxtaposes these narratives with those in the preceding two chapters and those in the two chapters that follow as evidence of what we need to heal and what we have to unpack and own from that long, invisible Shadow bag we drag behind us.


From Chapter Six: Dominoes, Defoliation, Death, & Democracy

Under [Ho Chi Minh’s] leadership, on September 2, 1945, the “Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam” emerged. It borrowed language and concepts from both the American and French revolutions, and it listed grievances against the French colonizers in 1945, much as the British colonists, who would eventually identify as Americans, had done against their British governors in 1776.

….

In 1945 and 1946 Ho Chi Minh wrote repeatedly to President Truman and other world leaders, and at least once to the United Nations, asking for humanitarian aid from the “great world powers” and relief organizations because some two million Vietnamese had died of starvation in the final years of World War II. Neither the U. S. president nor the other leaders nor the United Nations responded. Ho concluded that “We apparently stand quite alone; we shall have to depend on ourselves.” In the United States, Ho’s letters were classified Top Secret and would not become known until the Pentagon Papers were published in 1971.

….

In April 1953, just over a year before the agreements were signed, President Eisenhower had delivered his “The Chance for Peace” speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Widely known as the “Cross of Iron” speech, it celebrates the end of World War II, warns of the Soviet Union’s post-war behaviors, and argues both against the costs of war and for hope, freedom, and democracy:

The 8 years that have passed have seen that hope waver, grow dim, and almost die. And the shadow of fear again has darkly lengthened across the world…. In that [1945] spring of victory the soldiers of the Western Allies met the soldiers of Russia in the center of Europe. They were triumphant comrades in arms…. 

This common purpose lasted an instant and perished. The nations of the world divided to follow two distinct roads. The United States and our valued friends, the other free nations, chose one road. The leaders of the Soviet Union chose another. The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation’s right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

….

Beginning almost immediately, and continuing for the next twenty-plus years in Vietnam and in various places around the globe to the present day, the United States would violate Eisenhower’s first, third, fourth, and fifth precepts, and engage an ongoing national debate about the second. The Soviets and Chinese would exacerbate the situation, but they didn’t claim to adhere to these same precepts.

….

Under Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy the U.S. first ignored and then incrementally opposed Ho Chi Minh in the north; set up, supported, and eventually disposed of Diem in the south; and increased the presence and levels of engagement of U. S. military advisors. President Johnson, with the financial blessings of Congress, then officially sent U. S. combat forces to Vietnam without declaring war. Johnson and Nixon each escalated specific aspects of the undeclared war both on the ground and in the air…

….

The August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, documented in part through a series of confused and confusing reports now historically discredited and occasionally still debated, resulted in an almost unanimous vote in both houses of Congress to give President Johnson the power to fully engage the U. S. military in Southeast Asia. (Thirty-seven years later, due to the events of September 11, 2001 and despite any alleged lessons learned—or not learned—in Vietnam, Congress would give George W. Bush an updated version of that same essentially blank check to “fight terror” anywhere on the planet. We’ll explore how that went in Chapter Seven). So, the Congressionally-approved official bombing of the north began in 1964. After the Ia Drang battle in 1965, General Westmoreland requested troops in five-figure increments, and by 1968 more than half a million American military personnel were on the ground in Vietnam. 

….

On the ground, rules of engagement provided that all individuals within an area that was declared a free-fire zone were enemy. Search-and-destroy missions provided that all military-age men encountered on such missions could be killed, villages could be burned, and women and children could be sent to refugee camps. On March 16, 1968, U. S. Army Warrant Officer and helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, Jr., along with his door gunner, Specialist Larry Colburn and crew chief, Specialist Glenn Andreotta, interrupted one such search-and-destroy mission, in which Army infantry soldiers massacred some 504 non-combatant, unarmed men, women, and children.

….

The massacre took place in the village of Son My, with some 347 of the 504 murders taking place in the hamlet of My Lai. Glenn Andreotta would die in combat three weeks later. The three men would be called traitors and worse for thirty years. On March 6, 1998, Thompson, Colburn, and, posthumously, Andreotta, were awarded the Soldiers Medal for heroism not involving conflict with an enemy.15 Colonel Oran Henderson, ordered to cover up the massacre, would say in 1971 that “Every unit of brigade size has its My Lai hidden someplace.”16 

….

Among the more than 2.5 million military personnel who did return home after serving in Vietnam, we now know that hundreds of thousands carried with them the effects of having been exposed to Agent Orange, the defoliant used to destroy the forests that provided cover for the enemy. Exact official numbers are difficult to come by, and the number of diseases tied to that exposure has grown over the years. Many veterans became sick and died before the connection between the chemical and their illness was made, and once it was made, help from the Veterans Administration (VA) was slow to come and frustrating to obtain. Ultimately, the impact of the herbicide has impacted and continues to impact millions of lives—in Vietnam and in the United States—including American veterans and their families as well as Vietnamese veterans, civilians, and their families.36 

Many returning veterans also carried with them the psychological impacts of combat. In his early conversations with Vietnam veterans at the Veterans Administration in the 1970s, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk worked with a group of Marines who initially engaged with such statements as “I do not want to talk about the war.” And they didn’t—until one of them did. Others followed, and learning they could trust the doctor, they continued to show up, formed a new sense of comradeship, gave him a uniform, and included him as one of them.

…. Such “in-group bias,” which we’ll return to in chapters nine and eleven, can be both a blessing and a curse. At its best it is at the heart of much love, loyalty, friendship, and camaraderie; at its worst it brings much suffering, fear, bullying, and violence. Van der Kolk also began to see that “the very event that had caused them so much pain had also become their sole source of meaning. They felt fully alive only when they were revisiting their traumatic past.”37

….

The return of hundreds of thousands of traumatized Vietnam veterans catalyzed the development of the PTSD diagnosis, which today acknowledges and serves survivors of combat, sexual assault, domestic violence, mass shootings, accidents and other catastrophic events.41 And yet, Congress, the VA, the Pentagon, and the White House have been slower to spend money and to coordinate care for veterans than they have been to spend money on waging war itself. We’ll return to this disparity in our exploration of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the next chapter.


From Chapter Seven: Lessons Not Learned: Iraq, Afghanistan, & …

Despite the reports from two separate teams of U. N. weapons inspectors—the first led by a U. S. Marine veteran, Scott Ritter,4 whose team reported that no such weapons of mass destruction existed, and the second, led by David Kay,5 whose report corroborated Ritter’s—the U. S. began bombing Iraq on March 19, 2003. On May 1 of that year, President Bush, costumed in pilot’s garb, stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier below a banner that read “Mission Accomplished,” and told the world that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”6

….

In September 2003, some thirty-six years after he shared with Robert McNamara the details of the destruction of the Quang Ngai hamlets in Vietnam and six months after the U. S. began bombing Iraq again, [journalist] Jonathan Schell wrote a long, crystal-clear sentence pointing out what “the basic mistake” of the Bush policy in Iraq was not. Employing some 250 words and quite a few semicolons, Schell identified eleven “grievous” but “secondary” mistakes that included sending too few troops to “run the place,” recruiting from among Saddam’s most brutal agencies for a new police force, privatizing parts of the Iraqi economy with no input from the Iraqi people, killing civilians, and driving away traditional allies. Schell then wrote a fourteen-word sentence, in italics and with no semicolons: “The main mistake of American policy in Iraq was waging war at all.” 3

….

The original, official reasons for sending our military into each country differed. In Afghanistan, the U. S. was pursuing the architects of the 9/11 attacks; in Iraq, the U. S. offered a series of sequentially discredited reasons we’ll explore below. As we explore the worldviews, choices, and strategies that informed the Bush administration’s deployment of U. S. troops in these two countries, we’ll keep in mind President Eisenhower’s post-World War II and Cold War precepts, cited in Chapter Six, and we’ll take a closer look at Secretary of Defense McNamara’s post-Vietnam lessons learned. We’ll also consider the strategies of the three administrations that followed, culminating in the Trump administration’s 2019 treaty with the Taliban, and the Biden administration’s 2021 withdrawal of U. S. troops, according to the terms of that treaty. 

….

On the record, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and sixteen others, under the banner of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) had written to President Clinton on January 26, 1998, asking him to “enunciate a new strategy” that “should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power,” and that required “a willingness to undertake military action[,] as diplomacy is clearly failing.” The letter’s authors were clear that “removing Saddam Hussein’s regime from power…. needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.”14 

Subsequently, in September 2000, the PNAC issued a ninety-page report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century. Part V of the report, “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force,” which stressed the importance of seeking “to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs”—also known as RMA—included this sentence: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”15 The September 11, 2001 attacks provided the catastrophic event.

….

Despite the intelligence leading up to, on, and continuing after the day of the attacks, all of which pointed to al Qaeda and none of which hinted at Hussein, the campaign to oust the Iraqi dictator was rejuvenated by the events of that day.  In America’s War for the Greater Middle East, Andrew Bacevich points out that as early as November 27, 2001, not quite two months into Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks to start “gearing up” to invade Iraq.17

….

… amid many well-meaning and occasionally partially accurate claims about having learned the political and military lessons of Vietnam…it is still possible and seems probable that small groups of American men and a growing but still small number of women, many with degrees from elite institutions, regardless of their political affiliations and worldviews, and whether they are elected or appointed, will commit American lives, resources, money, time, and energy to endeavors that they believe in and that end badly, or go on as if never to end. The lives, resources, and money are rarely their own. In America’s invasions of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, ignorance of others’ histories, cultures, and desires is ubiquitous, as are arrogance and hubris about America’s role in the world and its capacity to fulfill it, and its predisposition to employ violence toward such fulfillment. Such traits are also at the heart of the Project for the New American Century’s Rebuilding America’s Defenses. It rarely ends well when apparently intelligent people attempt to force what they believe in on others at gunpoint, in the name of democracy, human rights, and free markets.23

….

Within and beyond the ignorance, arrogance, and violence lurk cost, waste, and excess. As of February 2020, according to the Military Times, the war in Iraq had cost U. S. taxpayers some one trillion, nine hundred and twenty-two billion dollars, a number that looks like this: $1,922,000,000,000.00. That amount was funneled from American taxpayers into Iraq from 2003 forward, and does not include the costs for Afghanistan or other shorter-term post-9/11 antiterrorist actions. It does include the costs of combat, private contractors, promotion of democracy, reconstruction, veterans’ care, and interest on the debt incurred to fund the war.32

….

For some perspective on what a trillion means, consider that one million seconds account for 11.6 days; one billion seconds account for 31.7 years; one trillion seconds account for 31,710 years. With that perspective in place, consider that from October 2001 through August 2021, the U. S. Department of Defense spent more than $14 trillion (measured in 2021 dollars) for all purposes, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. One third to one half of these expenditures went to private contractors, and of those, a quarter to a third have gone to just five companies—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrup Grumman, which, together contracted for $286 billion in 2019 and 2020 alone.

….

In October 2011, the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan “concluded that between $31 billion and $60 billion of taxpayers’ funds have been lost to contract waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan.”39

These persistent, underlying currents of greed, excess, untrustworthiness, and lack of accountability in support of unprovoked large-scale violence exacerbate the inherently problematic reality of war as a for-profit endeavor for a small assortment of companies and people—who don’t share profits with those who risk their lives in combat.40

Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rice, and other key players who initiated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and chose to sustain them through five and seven years respectively, had access to voluminous public and private lessons on governance and war from a wide array of combat veterans (both enlisted and officers) and public servants beyond Eisenhower and McNamara. They chose to embrace instead what Max Fisher referred to as the “grandly   ideological… highly abstract and untested theories about the nature of the world”… upon which Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, the PNAC, and others insisted.

….

As early as November 2001 Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar reached out to soon-to-be-interim-Afghan-president, Hamid Karzai about a possible surrender. Omar demanded nothing other than amnesty—a deal that Karzai (who would be the Afghanistan version of Vietnam’s Diem—without the assassination) was interested in making. The Taliban were defeated and had little or no leverage for negotiation. Donald Rumsfeld’s response to Omar’s offer was that “The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders.” No deal was made. 

….

In their final report, the 9/11 Commission, after hearing a wide range of both private and public testimony, concluded that “Perhaps the most incisive of the advisors on terrorism to the new [Bush] administration was the holdover Richard Clarke.”73

Under oath, Clarke spoke openly about his frustration with National Security Advisor Rice’s delays and lack of urgency in her response to the information he provided her as early as January 25, 2001—less than a week after Bush’s inauguration. As noted above, a National Security Council Principals meeting on the al Qaeda threat that Clarke requested on that date did not take place until September 4, 2001—one week before the attack on the United States. Further evidence of his integrity and clarity emerged, when, asked by the commission, Clarke admitted that had his policy advice been acted on when he first offered it, there was no guarantee it would have prevented the September 11 attacks.

….

In the early 1990s, amid Robert McNamara’s reflections on and regrets about America’s post-World War II trajectory (and with additional insights from his post-Korea, post-Vietnam, post-Cold War, and post-Desert Storm observations), he offered another lesson, or perhaps a warning, for those who might be interested: “In the post[WW II] years, the United States had the power—and to a considerable degree exercised that power—to shape the world as we chose. In the next century, that will not be possible.”77 Indeed.

We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam. Nor is it clear that we’re ready to learn anything as a result of our not having learned from Vietnam. Our post-9/11 ignorance and arrogance, characterized by phrases such as you’re either with us or you’re with the enemy; wanted, dead or alive; and bring ‘em on deceive us. We live amid Eisenhower’s perpetual fear and tension, with a burden of arms draining our wealth and labor, and with every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, we somehow refuse to believe we’re hanging from a cross of iron as we continue to play the familiar, well-worn, monophonic groove of all the danger out there in those other countries, religions, parties, networks, neighborhoods, and people. We refuse to listen to any sustained multi-channel messages that might implicate and even save us.


Chapter Eight: And That’s Not All

You can access, download, and read all of Chapter Eight by clicking here or by clicking on the book cover image on the homepage. The download includes other material, including all the endnotes for the book.


Chapter Nine: Bullied, Woke, and Canceled in the Polarized State(s) of America

Bullies, as mentioned briefly in Chapter Two, often choose to bully because of their fear and/or sense of inadequacy. This is true regardless of their particular doses of ignorance, arrogance, fear, bigotry, or excess. Bullies abuse power, which may be physical, emotional, financial, political, or intellectual. Whether they are actually stronger than their victims, or only appear to be, something about the existence of their victim scares or upsets them. So, to feel better about themselves, or to feel safer, they attempt some level of physical, emotional, financial, political, or intellectual intimidation.

….

One common arena for bullying is fundamentalism. Said differently, one manifestation of fundamentalism is bullying, which, in the broadest sense of the word tends to engage ignorance, arrogance, fear of the other, excess, bigotry, and often violence—in various forms. 

….

Popular evocations of woke culture are also fundamentalist moves. While its approach is often, but not always, more nuanced, and based in intellectual, emotional, and social (rather than physical) confrontation, woke culture’s foundational premise is that those who are woke are superior and right, and those who are not woke are inferior and wrong and don’t or can’t see what the woke folks can.

….

The point is that development and worldview matter and that bullying continues, albeit in different manifestations, through traditional (do what the monarchy says or else), modern (we have freedom, power, and wealth, and you don’t, so know your place), and postmodern (we’re more woke, so we’re gonna shut you up and shut you down) perspectives. “Canceling” is the common parlance for shutting someone up or down.   

….

Twenty-first-century political branding aside, this work toward equality is centuries old. Wielding the language of wokeness as a weapon, canceling the voices of those perceived as not woke (enough), and then canceling the woke cancelers themselves is newer, but not new.

….

Canceling, even before it was labeled as such, manifests in many guises and sizes in American history and current events. For instance, despite not operating in the time and place of our current, specific woke and cancel language, the white landowner-planter-politicians believed they were more woke than the black human beings they kidnapped, bought, sold, and enslaved and the native peoples they removed and/or killed. Each of these atrocities was an attempt to quite literally cancel a group perceived as being less woke.

….

The American architects of the attacks in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq operated from the perspective of being more democratically and capitalistically woke than the leaders and people of those countries, and they were willing to cancel millions of lives to prove it. Recall that many in America tried to cancel Representative Barbara Lee after her “no” vote on September 14, 2001. Remember the 2004 Bush campaign and the Vietnam veterans who joined them to effectively Swift-boat-cancel John Kerry’s military service, his Silver Star, his Bronze Star, his Purple Hearts and his presidential candidacy.

Many of us who have qualified, at least chronologically, to be considered adult citizens of the United States do not behave as good or even adequate role models for our children. Our prospects for growing into wise or even moderately competent elders are bleak. This inadequacy and this bleakness are often exacerbated by cleverness, facility with language, and above average disregard for evidence-based truth…


Chapter Ten: The Gift: One Guy’s Shadow as an Unconscious Invitation to a Nation to Heal

As mentioned in the opening pages of the Introduction, this exploration of our collective American Shadow began as a brief essay I wrote in September 2016. It made the case that the Republican candidate for the presidency, all by himself, embodied those Shadow aspects of our culture that we deny—ignorance, arrogance, fear, bigotry, violence, greed, excess, bullying, and untrustworthiness. 

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If nothing else, the 45th president’s early denial of and persistently minimal and minimizing response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, despite evidence provided by American and international scientists, and his anticipation of and response to his 2020 loss to Joe Biden are sufficient proof that, beyond their usefulness for promoting his brand, he has not cared for a moment about this country or its people—including his most ardent supporters, and including those he incited to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He told them he loved them, he told them they were special, and he claimed that he and they believe in law and order, as they were vandalizing the building, threatening members of Congress, and attacking law enforcement officers. We will return to the pandemic, the election, and the attack on the Capitol below.

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In his personal and public embodiment of ignorance, arrogance, fear, excess, bigotry, violence, greed, bullying, and untrustworthiness, he invites those among us who endorse these traits and those who eschew them to step up and be counted. He has made it okay to wear these traits as public badges of honor. Stated differently, through who and how he is, he has unwittingly invited to the surface the “worse angels of our nature”—the “evil out there”—that Americans do not own in themselves. The examples cited below provide a relentless, and in many ways astounding, testimony of this embodiment. Don’t take my word for it. Investigate each one yourself.

Of course, that this one guy embodies the collective Shadow of the United States in no way lets the rest of us off the hook. Rather, it more firmly fastens us on the hook. His relentless sharing of these traits with us is a gift we need to unwrap together.

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One of 45’s most revealing public statements addressed his understanding of healthcare and healthcare reform. After relentlessly attacking the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and promising to dismantle it if he became president, he pronounced, on February 27, 2017, “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.”17 He said this out loud in 2017 as the President of the United States.

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This son of a New York real estate developer is responsible neither for the global pandemic nor for the million-plus Americans who have died and the millions more whose lives have been changed by COVID-19. He is responsible for not taking the threat seriously at the outset, for misleading and lying to hundreds of millions of Americans—especially the tens of millions who took him at his nonsensical words—and for effectively disappearing as the chief executive in the two-plus months of his lame-duck period, except to complain over and over and over again that the election was stolen (another bit of nonsense that we’ll get to below). With an average of more than 188,000 new cases and more than 2,300 new deaths reported each day between his election loss and his refusal to attend his successor’s inauguration, he chose to be invisible as a leader and a man. Many in the Republican party continue to support him and grovel for his approval.

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Trump’s longstanding facility with lies and his apparent unfamiliarity with truth, when combined with those media organizations that repeat and don’t challenge the lies and those tens of millions of Americans who are willing to believe what he and the performance news commenters say, lead to a perfect storm of intentionally manipulative leaders and influencers with powerful platforms, complemented by millions of willfully blind, vincibly ignorant, or intentionally collaborative followers who embody what Justice Souter referred to in 2012 as our “pervasive civic ignorance.” Said differently, guys like Trump are impotent alone and need other people to believe in and act on their lies. Unhealthy. Masculine. Me-centric. Arrogant. Untrustworthy. Individual.


Chapter Eleven: So, Now What?

The previous eight chapters took us on an illustrative journey through selected American narratives that disclose our collective Shadow—the themes, episodes, moments, traits, and general aspects of our stories that we don’t recognize or own and often project onto others.

The last two chapters…? You’ll have to buy the book!