Catch-22: The Protection of the American Way

Delusions are based on myths that are dreamed up. They never happened. They are fabrications.

By Rodolfo F. Acu??a
Published on LatinoLA: March 14, 2011

Catch-22: The Protection of the American Way

Joseph Heller published his satirical novel, Catch-22, in 1961. It was set in the latter stages of World War II. During the sixties it seemed as if almost every high school class used the novel and the term "Catch-22" became a popular idiom.

The novel is about U.S. Army captain, John Joseph Yossarian, and his fictional experiences. It is a parody the common expression among GI's: "There is the right way, the wrong way, and the army way."

The expression referred to "a no-win situation" or with two conflicting messages. It made fun of the army way and its self-contradictory circular logic that seemed crazy and defied the process of a rational mind.

Catch-22 justified bureaucratic actions. It was a situation that did not actually exist, but because those in power said it did, it was believed. As long as it was believed, it stood unchallenged.

It stood because of an underlying fear of exposing the insane system that produced social dilemmas: "This not a perfect system, but it is better than anything else constructed by man." If we tax billionaires we are hurting ourselves in the long run.

A fictional constitution protects us from the bureaucrats. The Tea Party movement and the Minutemen protect the constitution. The enemy becomes anyone trying to limit these delusions.

The enemies are the other, Barack Obama who cheated because he was not born in the United States. The enemy is the undocumented workers who cheat you out of your heritage. Their getting an education means white people can't get an education.

Anything foreign becomes an enemy combatant, e.g, speaking Spanish, an accent, looking something other than American. Criticism of the delusion is un-American.

Any one of these delusions threatens the fictional constitution or American way.

The logic is irrational. We don't tax 371 billionaires at a fair rate because it would be "unfair," although these billionaires get tax write-offs that a poor person do not--their cars, their meals, homes, clothing and most important their political contributions maintain them in power and corrupt government.

The myth of Horacio Alger is at the core of the delusion. Any American can make it if they work hard enough; forget study after study that shows differently.

In American we can live any place we want ÔÇô if we have the money. Forget that in 1978 California Proposition 13 resulted in some properties in Beverly Hills being taxed at a lower rate than in South Central Los Angeles.

The logic defies rational thinking. Sophistries such as people should not complain because they could be living in Tijuana are inbred.

Enter Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker gives the rich a huge tax break and then blames the unions for the shortfall. The super rich's way is to eliminate nearly all collective bargaining rights for public employees. The objective is to destroy labor unions.

Walker does the bidding of the Kochs and their class of billionaires and passes a law by by-passing the established rules.

The delusion is that we have checks and balances that will protect us. The delusion is that congress and courts will correct any injustices. Remember Gore vs. Bush (2000) and Citizens United (2010).

It is now "the right way, the wrong way and the super rich's way."

These delusions are being played out in Arizona.

Education is supposed to be the great leveler; the foundation of democracy. The delusion is that it insures social mobility and indeed while not leveling society it has been a stairway to the middle class for some.

A high dropout rate suggests failures in the overall system that must be corrected. However, the quality of education in great part depends on the school, which depends on what neighborhood the school is in, and the money spent on education.

Most Mexican Americans and Latinos live in poor neighborhoods and thus have poor schools. Arizona is 48th in per capita spending $6,472 per child compared to $14,884 for New York.

The rich escape this by sending their children to private schools or supplementing their education with private tutoring.

Mexican Americans have fought for better education. They initiated bilingual programs; they were declared unconstitutional. In 1997 as a result of a court decision the Tucson Unified School District initiated Mexican American Studies.

By any standards the program has been a success: "Graduation rates for TUSD Ethnic Studies seniors have ranged from 94% to 100% since 2004 in comparison to senior graduation rates at the same schools ranging from 68% to 92%"

However, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne pushed through HB2281 that bans Ethnic Studies more specifically La Raza Studies.

Horne did this because Dolores Huerta in answer to a student question said that Republicans were no friends of Latinos.

This was enough for Horne to go after the program labeling it un-American. He constructed his myth without proof or pedagogical consideration.

The delusion is that if you are right, you can go to court, the courts will correct any injustices. Challenging the law costs over a million dollars and ultimately you will be dealing with the court that decided Gore v. Bush and Citizens United.

Delusions are based on myths that are dreamed up. They never happened. They are fabrications.

They are so because people like Horne and Walker feel them to be. Thus they are so.

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