It’s easy to hate the Americans. They seem loud and obnoxious; ignorant and aggressive. America’s foreign policy seems based on greed and self-righteousness. They voted George W. Bush into office not once but twice. The list goes on and on and on. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if they lived up to their ideals?
Consider the current global situation. We’re at a turning point in human history. Technology allows us to connect as never before; allows those revolutionary, transforming ideas to travel to the four corners within hours. While these elements of ‘the future’ develop we have a growing tension between religious and secular forces – or simply between different religions. The contrast here is stark. Ancient ideas founded on ignorance versus progressive ideas founded on science and, at least, tolerance. The threat of nuclear war, though not discussed as much now as in previous decades, still looms over us , with several countries in possession of nuclear weapons and shaky diplomacy. We could begin a new Enlightenment or we could slip into a new Dark Ages.
Wouldn’t it be great if we actually had a righteous model of freedom and independence to guide us? A calm, wise hand; dispensing charity and democracy with one hand and firm-but-fair spanks with the other. A political sugar daddy, wise and strong and, most importantly, morally unassailable.
America was founded on the highest ideals. The documents that form the basis of their system are masterpieces of political writing. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Such stirring words arouse hope and faith, as well as a certain high-minded love of our own species. The Bill of Rights began as an amendment to the constitution and lays out a clear set of freedoms that could serve as the basis for any modern democracy.
High ideals, yes, so why does America seem to be slipping into a quagmire of political confusion and religious propaganda? Laurence M Krauss has some interesting things to say on the subject of misinformation in modern America.
The United States is the only industrialised nation without universal healthcare. The United States ranks 19th in global literacy rates, behind Guyana, Moldova and Azerbaijan. How the hell is this even possible?
It seems that people with personal, religious and financial agendas have grabbed the reins and are riding on the backs of morons across America. I’m not just talking about the religious right, they’re getting to be almost comical. What is more disturbing is the prevalence of self-aggrandising pundits with little or no moral fibre. Men like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Women like the (now quieter) Ann Coulter and the frightful Michelle Malkin. These people are ostensibly conservative, yet the tone of their rants is anything but. Using rhetoric and bluster, based on nothing but their own wild fantasies, these people managed to get thousands of followers marching on the whitehouse calling for Obama’s birth certificate to be displayed because, wait for it, they refuse to believe he was born in the US. Somehow a large section of the American populace has been convinced that universal health care is some sort of communist plot (they say socialist, but they clearly have no clue what socialism entails).
I could go on and on with examples of pure media insanity in the US but really it’s beside my point. My point is this: America, if you didn’t make us hate you so much, we’d love you to bits. When we hate you it’s generally because of your hypocrisy. You invade sovereign nations under the banner of freedom and democracy yet you are unable to sustain rights and freedoms on your own soil. You leave your poor, your tired, your huddled masses suffering in the gutter without access to doctors. You lock people up in secret prisons and lie about knowledge of their torture. We see these things, we hear your lies and we hate you for them.
The rest of the world will just have to hope that the sane and clear-headed Americans (there are heaps of them, believe it or not) can drag their credulous brothers into the future, before the morons drown us all in their confusion and bile.