the world beyond america
This started with my riff in Levi’s Kucinich post . . .
I’m home in Canada for Christmas, and I’ve never seen this kind of universal hatred towards the United States.
I’m 42 years old, so I have been a conscious human thru the 1970s, 80s, 90s and whatever you call this war-filled new millenium.
Back in the old days, there was a global yankee dislike – but I always thought it was best summed up by the foreign bumper sticker – “Yankee go home! (and take me with you)”
The dislike of America was in many ways a surface issue, and I always felt it was a defensive reaction -- a way of countering America being the best at everything. I never bought into or believed it, and in fact ‘defected’ from my home country as a teenager to pursue the great American dream. I eventually became a citizen, and anybody who knows me knows how passionate I am about America, studying its history and participating in its present.
But something historically bad has happened. I trace the current arc back to Clinton’s ‘impeachment’, but obviously there’s something ugly that runs thru the american psyche – the KKK, McCarthy, slavery, Salem, the slaughter of the native peoples, Pat Robertson . . .
There’s something mean and inhuman about this “Christian” country -- all these men who hold the Bible over their eyes while they slaughter or persecute anyone who’s not just like them.
I guess I was a crazy optimist, cuz I actually thought I saw us / America evolving into something beyond that.
Just think of how generous, open and Big Picture-minded America was after World War 2. The G.I. Bill, the Marshal Plan, the Great Society. Positive, honest and inspiring music, films and books. There was a real core attempt to make the world a better place, to embrace other cultures.
And I thought that motion, that side, that momentum was going to win the day, that all the world's best ideas would become common knowledge.
But now that openess and generosity of spirit has swung back the other direction – back to slavery and slaughter, where one type of person is not equal to another. I think of the unconstitutional provisions of the unanimously approved Patriot Acts, the “prisoners” in Guantanamo, not joining the world court, American Israelis in a rage if anyone mentions having an even-handed approach to the problem there . . . like, “even-handed” can’t even be discussed. Arabs and Muslims are not equal to the rest of us. And we need to teach them democracy and western ways because, you know, the crusades have been so successful and popular throughout human history.
But it’s even worse than ever before for a few reasons:
A) we should know better. This is no longer the age of ignorance and witch-burnings. It’s one thing if you were a stupid bastard in the middle ages, but there’s no excuse for it now.
B) everybody knows what we’re doing. Back in the old days, when we were exporting slaves from Africa and “colonizing” was all the rage, there was no satellite TV broadcasting the details to every other soul on earth. back in b.c. times (before cable) you could somewhat get away with being a global asshole, but now any store that a colonial gang loots has cameras.
C) there are a lot more guns, bombs and people now. We’re not pissing off a handful of spear-chuckers. The British Imperialists pissed us off too a couple hundred years ago. Remember, America, how we didn’t like some foreigners from the other side of the world telling us what to do? And how we expelled that big global empire with freakin single-load muskets? We've gone from checkers to chess. and you know how much damage one bishop can do.
Afghanistan’s “constitutional convention” just disbanded because nobody could agree – and that was a country that was Glad we came there and turfed the Talaban. How can anyone in their right mind believe – in the 21st century, after everything we’ve learned throughout human history – that we can invade other countries, be welcomed in, and force them to start living by the rules cooked up by a bunch of slave-owning "Christian" defacto Bristish Lords in Philadelphia back when a horse & buggy was advanced technology? I happen to be a fan Tommy J and some of the ideas those boys were kickin around back then, and I also think Jerry Garcia’s a great guitar player. It doesn’t mean that I expect the Inuit, the Sudanese, or the Iraqis to understand or agree, though.
Americans cannot see outside of their borders, and it’s become insanely dangerous.
Up here in Canada the last two weeks, most of the people who write for the newspapers or are interviewed on the news shows have and are speaking from a global perspective. It’s is SO much more international than the Alleged melting-pot that America loves to claim it is. The global perspective is summarized and brian-ized above, but what’s also struck me are Canadian’s opinions of the American administration, which then unfortunately but maybe naturally carries over to how they think about the American people. I’m sure if pressed they’d acknowledge their feelings are not towards each American citizen, but also they know many citizens Do think the administration’s actions are good and correct.
What I’m reporting is that the old knee-jerk anti-Americanism that was only as deep as the wrapper on the latest CD someone bought, has grown into something that’s much closer to what . . . well, the rest of the world thinks of America. Canadians aren’t the type to take it so far as suicide bombers, but it’s way beyond a cultural disagreement. It’s sort of like finding out that extended family member you more or less tolerated has been charged with being a serial pedophile. You’ve gone from not really liking them that much to going, “See, I knew they were crazy and dangerous,” and you want to keep yourself and your children as far away from them as possible.
And Canada is America’s closest neighbor, nicknamed the 51st state. If this is the vibe next door, imagine what they’re saying on the other side of the global village?
I don’t know what the answer is, or really how I expect anyone to respond to this post.
But I’m shocked, scared, freaked out about how acutely Americans don’t see this. How this is so far beyond a close judgement call. And how this myopic bullying view is blinding the nation to the generations-long disaster they’ve set into motion. As Al Gore said, “This is the worst foreign policy decision we’ve made in our 200-plus years as a nation,” and he’s right.
Instead of that tax break, what if the white house gave every American a 2 week visit to any other country in the world. We could rotate it so everybody wasn’t gone at once. Something like only 7% of Americans have passports, and less than half actually use them. That’s the problem.
Obviously, the only way to possibly reverse this is for Bush not to be re-elected, but the deeper problem is – many people think he’s right. And even if he loses in November, how are we ever going to reverse this KKK mentality that’s being woven into young American’s minds, and the victimization being reinforced in generations of Muslims the world over?