Ethan Casey is a Seattle-based international journalist, frequent public speaker, and author of Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The News column: What is America?

With apologies, I'm posting late again this week - very late, in fact; just in time to post yet again a couple of days from now, when my next column is published in The News on Tuesday, March 28. My column for March 21, titled "What is America?", quotes from C.L.R. James's posthumously published book American Civilization, written in 1950:

The fear, the doubts are rooted in doubt and fear of the American system itself, fear and doubt of the ever-new conflicts and exacerbation of old ones that it ceaselessly breeds, and fear and doubt because both Western Europe and the millions in the Far East maintain a stiff and very often aggressive hostility to taking the achievements and traditions of America as a model. … Thus the greatest power in Western civilisation no longer knows what to believe about itself.

And I end the column by asking my mainly Pakistani readers:

What do you want to know or understand better about America, beyond the obvious or cliché? Please email me, and please be as concrete as possible.

My column is online here, and I can be reached by email at

1 comment:

Roger said...


It is again with great interest that I have read your column especially that it is about “America”. The following quote form James somehow puzzled me:

“Western Europe and the millions in the Far East maintain a stiff and very often aggressive hostility to taking the achievements and traditions of America as a model.”

I remember ending an old Blue Ear piece asking what the American achievements were and as I am currently doing some research on human trafficking, I found this report:

“Conduct Unbecoming: Fighting for Freedom in Sweatshop Uniforms”

“The Department of Defense is the world's largest purchaser of U.S.- made apparel. Approximately 20,000 men and women manufacture uniforms for the armed forces and unfortunately, many of these workers labor in sweatshops - in the United States. "Conduct Unbecoming: Sweatshops and the U.S. Military Uniform Industry", a new report documenting sweatshop conditions prevalent at many factories with government uniform contracts, is the result of extensive research and interviews with 88 workers at eight contractors throughout the southern United States over the last several years.”

“The report uncovers a host of abuses at eight contractors. Workers are paid poverty wages to sew military uniforms. The average pay at these contractors was $6.55 an hour - only 85% of the U.S. poverty threshold for a family of three. Few workers surveyed were able to afford their employers' healthcare benefits, if offered. One company, Columbia Sewing, does not even offer its employees healthcare coverage. At another, 86% of workers interviewed have no healthcare coverage.”

“As a result of the poverty wages, workers in this industry are forced to rely on state and federally-subsidized programs, such as food stamps or Medicaid, to feed their children, make ends meet, and provide healthcare for their families. In effect, U.S. taxpayers shoulder the costs of low wages and poor conditions in this industry.”

I think it sums it all. A society where the pursuit of happiness masks the pursuit of profit, where there is minimal social care and protection and where the exploitation of each other is deeply rooted even in the administration.

It would be interesting to know what the soldiers on the front think about fighting terrorism in a uniform made by an enslaved fellow American.

Yours always,