Okay, this is going to be short and terribly unsweet, but I’ve been getting a lot of emails and the occasional comment over last Thursday’s blog (the title of which, “Holy Shi’ite” was aped by the New York Post today!) concerning the whole “dumping the Koran in the toilet” thing.
First off, the story has not been proved false, just not proven. And though my rant on the subject is definitely incommensurate with a rumor, the salient point remains true: Americans have grave difficulty understanding anyone else’s culture AT BEST, and at worst, we are the biggest bunch of assholes on the planet at a time when we need the most friends.
I don’t “blame America first,” I just look at the research, the sources, the continuing path of behavior, and then assess that it’s pretty easy to blame America within about .04 seconds. If it makes you feel better, just insert “Abu Ghraib” or “indiscriminately bombing Afghan wedding parties and killing 35 members of a single family” in place of “Koran in the toilet.”
To paraphrase Bluto in “Animal House,” what the fuck happened to the country I used to know? I still have love for America, buried deep in piles of heartache, but I think it might be two things: a vestigal remnant of childhood innocence growing up during the Bicentennial, and perhaps the sobering, existential notion that no other country is much better.
When I was a kid, I thought we were the good guys, the benevolent giant that swooped in to help those in need, a self-questioning, beautiful oaf that gained its power by always remaining in ideological balance. The future of this place was decreed by a certain kind of tacit righteousness: how could we be destroyed if our hearts kept being the right place? I was so sure of our overall path, that I didn’t even see the need to join the political discussion until I was almost 25.
Now, I’m sickened. Any country that could go through four years of George W. Bush and re-elect him is just crazy. It shouldn’t have been close. We consume 26% of the world’s resources, and we have 4% of the population. Does that not give ANY of you pause? We are one of the only civilized countries in the world that legally kills its own people. Oh God, I’m Boring My Audience.
I’ve had to look inside myself and ask: is my problem with my country just a logical extension of my problems with myself? I have been known to go on terrific rants about my own flaws; does this just fit neatly in the same category, as if I get off on the self-loathing? Well, yeah, probably.
But do you think about America and still feel the same about it? Not in an “I’m older and wiser now and have less expectations” kind of way, but I really would like to know if any of you have looked at your country like a girlfriend that you have suddenly fallen out of love with, and don’t know how to break it to yourself.
As for me, it’s made me a unique blend: a casual survivalist. We drive a hybrid car, our farm is entirely solar-powered, we have stocks of non-perishable food – but in daily life, I don’t really care. I’m anxious as to how it all turns out for my daughter’s sake, but I still watch “Alias” and eat dark chocolate.